Almond Tree

for weeks you lay
dismembered in our garden

your trunk
glowed in the January dusk
a wet plate of sap

now I am in this pit
wrestling with your amputated roots
I embrace you you will not budge

on the south side your flesh
the color of disturbed almond
makes my axe ring and ring

on the north my spade cuts through punk

there was no room
for your dark blighted foliage
almond tree

                   though I admit
also to being fortyish
by no means as green as I was

just because I too
am weighed down with mortification
which does not start from the roots but
is absorbed through leafwork

the more determined I am
to extirpate you
you made frail by smogs are to be my victim

through sweat and rain
I see my children
jump for the clean chips

just because in my office
where for years I have studied
there is no evil that my bright
rarely-used axe can hack at

here I swing it deep in the sloppy mud
and my splattered body athwart the pit
feels at last the tug of your buried taproot

I embrace you blindly and
with a small throatlike noise
you bring us both over

From: Crossing Borders, New Directions, 1994.

Posted: Tue 29 Dec, 2009