To a Black Locust on the Autumnal Equinox
This morning the weather is all you-can-trust-me, again,
golden sunlight, blue-sky chill of autumn, and yet
the black locust tree lies broken, one bifurcated trunk
hanging like an arm, useless after a sword fight, the wind
relentless yesterday, dawn to dusk, like someone saying, Turn
your little clock hands back all you want; some things
write time. A tree, for instance, ring upon ring. Destroying it?
No time at all. Black locust, tree I’ve loved, every season.
The twisting ridges of its bark, the deep fissures that reveal
the inner layer, orange wood, sturdy fence posts settlers hewed.
In spring, white, acacia-like blossoms, draping sweet fragrance,
scent like grape soda. Summer’s feathery blue-green leaves
that fold for “sleep” each night, breathes antediluvian. Nesting
for songbirds, woodpeckers. In fall and winter, its crown is inked,
whimsical and Seussian. Sentinel where the drive turns west
toward the house. This time of year I’ve loved that tree most,
its sharp calligraphy and negative space, branches that conceal
nothing and yet, hold mystery. A cardinal’s in and out.
Once, a wood duck. Once, a flock of migrating bluebirds paused
to rest their sapphire wings. Two nights ago, as if it knew
this tree’s fate, the haunting nocturne of a Great Horned Owl.
Daye Phillippo taught English at Purdue University and her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Poetry, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Presence, Cider Press Review, Twelve Mile Review, One Art, Shenandoah, The Windhover, and many others. She lives and writes in rural Indiana where she hosts a monthly Poetry Hour at her local library. Thunderhead (Slant, 2020) was her debut full-length collection.