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Dead Tree

By John I. Blair

This summerís heat and drouth,
Worst in thirty years,
Has born dire fruit;
Our magnoliaís dead.

Not the icon of the South,
Evergreen with white blossoms
(Though those, too, have suffered),
It was deciduous:

Every year in autumn
The leaves would slowly brown
And fall to ground,
Its branches gray and bare by Christmas.

And then in spring
Fat buds would burst
Into a flowering glory,
Huge pink cups.

Now that will not come again;
Roots baked dry, foliage crisped,
Cambium dead of thirst,
Its gloryís gone.

Iíll hold a wake this winter,
Test limbs for life,
Scan tips for growth;
Miracles could happen.

And if they fail
Iíll cut it down with care,
Respecting all the years
Since I first planted it,

Allowing it the grace
Not to be replaced,
But remembered by the little oak
That sprouted in its shelter.

©2011 John I. Blair


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