You stand before me like unbroken bedrock,
a red oak ripe from Indian summer, staunch,
unrelenting, crown rich in autumnal hues,
golden swells of fire that pierce like longleaf
pines, life to my death as heartwood is to
timber. You extend a hand — milkwhite,
dalliant, fingers as taproots, ribbons that
bifurcate my thoughts through clay. Spring-
tails dance around your sapling trunk, blind
to the fury within mine — scribbled ventricles
walled with sap, welled from decay, wilted
from drought. Plowmen come for us. They
sidle by your dew-dropped leaves, aglow in
glory, bastions of tempests inlayed by flame,
pale reflections of regents — until they reach
mine, which crick like herringboned jags,
sallow wisps bored hollow from regret. You
watch from afar as they pick me apart,
branch by branch, thought by thought, cut
by axe until I swallow soil, until blackness
depresses, until fog settles in like kin, a
comfortable smile that warms like whiskey,
while winds rip roots from sediment and
scatter them amongst the brindled dead.