No longer buzzed on chlorophyll or tarted-up with autumn
colors, winter trees are a ragged lot. Few branch out
with the graceful lines of field guide silhouettes. Gnarled,
leaning with tropisms, bulging with goitrous growths,
hollowed and cracked, they’re shaped by disease, struggles
for light and water.
I like walking the streets with skeletal boughs arcing
darkly against the sky as they creak and groan
in a freezing wind. They seem misplaced, hanging
over a manufactured world of cars and macadam,
streetlights, and carefully built houses striving to deny
nature’s trademark imperfection.
My face reddened and parched by January gusts, I duck
into a tavern moist and warm as a greenhouse, smoky
and humming with conversation punctuated by laughter. No
calendar hunks or cover girls are clutching beers
and doing shots at the bar. But among the thin lips, wispy
hair, crooked noses and scarred skin, stories grow like trees.
From Depth of Field (Antrim House, 2010).
Used with the author's permission.