Although her limbs expect decay,
a learned tree knows angry wails
and fights the Fall’s fiercest display.
She spurns the reaper and the gales.
October masts fly scarlet jibs.
In the breeze, a hush, a chime,
for branches weak as children’s ribs
that fail when on their windswept climb
and do not return to reproduce.
So thoroughly are the prunings shed
that dawn reveals a somber truce
to let the living collect the dead.
You cannot trust a swamp red maple
to supply your sugar and warming wood.
Her sap’s too thin to be a staple.
Her brittle boughs misunderstood.