by Beth Evans



I walked the yard recently,
Past the chickens,
You know them well by now,
The compost creators.
Walked until I saw the damaged Rose-of-Sharon.
A branch, several branches,
Hung bent to the ground,
Clinging to the center trunk
With shaving of themselves,
Like the first loose tooth of a child,
Hanging by a thread of flesh,
About to part company.
I ripped the clinging branches from their mother,
Threw them aside,
More compost,
Feedings for new life,
Leaving a wounded mother,
With one branch embedded, still,
At her side,
No sign of its leaving home.
The mother tree reaching up towards the sky,
Bare of most of her branches,
Bare of most of the tender leaves
That the branches shoot out each year,
Year after year,
New every time,
The ever-changing interests and pursuits of her children.
But now they are gone.
As is their future.
I have heard,
That entire branches of families
Have been obliterated.
The mother, the father, the grandchildren,
The mother of them all, the grandmother.
There will no longer be changing interests and pursuits.
There will no longer be their future.


This tree,
This mother has wandering branches
That reach in an undulating choreography towards places,
Each other has never been.
They have their interests,
They follow their pursuits,
They live in their present
And towards their futures.
Not a single one has been cut down,
Though they all range far from the center,
Pilgrimage, the Hajj, Aliyah.
Risking annihilation in the
Moving winds of time and space.
The center holds.
I tell Yeats.
It is in their wandering,

Courage of exploration and redefinition,

That the core gains its strength.


I woke this morning with a poem in my head.
                The black sheep
                They never fit in their flock.
                Do better in the outskirts,
                Do better where they find other black sheep,
                Or pink sheep,
                Or green sheep,
                Or no sheep at all.
                And find their home among the antelopes,
                Or the orangutans,
                Or even among the wolves.
My son has left me,
Gone to find his new home
In the mountains or the meadows or a desert,
Like the branches of the bush that now lie rotting in my yard,
Like the branches that leap from the undulating tree,
Like the sheep that leave the flock.
He tells me,
That when he has a daughter,
He will name her Rose of Sharon,
And he has not even read the Grapes of Wrath,
Or the Bible.
But he has walked in this same yard,
Past the chickens,
Past the wounded tree,
When in his day,
It grew strong and whole,
As wood should,
And he will still,
See a future,
And procreate.

The poet, Beth Evans, lives in Brooklyn, NY and writes with the Thursday Morning Poets. She holds a master’s degree in English literature and works as an academic librarian. She is currently overseeing the care and maintenance of her son’s 23 chickens in her urban backyard with her pitbull Chichi and her cat Shadow.


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