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Limb

By John I. Blair

Late last night
My son called.
Heíd heard a crack
And crash upon his roof.

I jammed a ladder
Into my little car
And rattled miles
Past sleeping houses.

In his lightless yard
I propped the ladder,
Told him to hang on tight,
And clambered up.

There on the sloping shingles,
Under the shadowed mystery
Of great pecans and mighty oaks,
Lay a dead and rotted limb.

From the clean break
Across its dry stump
I could see
It had been ripe to go;

But though the fallen member
Was wide as my right arm
And ten feet long,
It did no major harm.

A bit of careful hauling
Got it off the roof onto the lawn;
And then I swept the small debris
Over the edge and down

Where it fell on my sonís head,
As, charmed by the sight
Of me at work,
He had forgot to move.

Making my way home
Before the dawn
I thought about relations
Between trees and urban folk.

Our tidy, foursquare,
Architectural abodes,
Are, for the most part,
Made of forest corpses;

Yet we long to nestle them
Among live trees,
Which unmistakably
Are never tidy.

We are intruders,
Clearly lucky
We donít get beaned
On a regular basis;

And when I work
In my own shady garden,
Sometimes I look up
And praise the treesí forbearance.

©2003 John I. Blair


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