Friday, August 26, 2011


One old sprawling tree
remains in the yard:
a maple, neat as a table lamp,
pruned and mowed around
as if placed there by a new park planner.

Clearing the land, many settlers passed it often.
As if invisible, decade after decade, it was spared--
as the tumult rose off the floor of the woods
from wagon wheels and axes, the clamor of lumberjacks,
and the farmers plowing their fields.

Now, all that’s heard
is the grass being sheared, the scratching of rakes,
and the dragging of lawn chairs
to elude the sun under what has become
an organic sphinx, a massive tome.

Each spring, it reenacts itself--
reciting from memory its own book of rings,
until, with a full head of hair, it exudes
the confidence of summer.

And then, when that first flinch of autumn comes,
each leaf names a color
before casting itself to the wind
leaving bare its branch
to claw through the cold, once again.

About John Middlebrook:
John Middlebrook lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where he manages a consulting firm focused on non-profit organizations. Mr. Middlebrook has been writing poetry since he was a graduate student at the University of Chicago, where he also served on the poetry staff of Chicago Review. His work has appeared in Writers' Bloc, Foundling Review, and Yes, Poetry. His home on the web is

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