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August, 1995

It fell in hot August
split and slashed
through blood, shaking leaves, swooning branches
the last breath, the final swoosh of its canopy
that cooled the garden fresh and green.
I wailed when I saw the sun burning in the yard
white fire in the vernal grass
heat baking
yesterday's cool, moist place.
Chestnut now has flown since two years --
now the carpet grass is
straw brown and meaty
naked in heat
and flowers droop panting
and squirrels have left in protest
and wise birds won't tarry.
In the last days, I laid at the foot of the Chestnut tree
wrapped my legs around the trunk
and on my back, glimpsed
the soul of the ancient spirit
that stretched for the sky,
and a soft embrace of
sinewy branches stroked me in shadow.
Light wept through the thick brush of its crown.
Chestnut leaned over and held me
in its wood flesh and branch arms and leaf fingertips
and whispered that it had heard the murmurings of its
majestic one,
I remember your voice.

Barbara A. Douglas

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