A spindly sapling in its place,
And Sunshine House now’s painted grey.
They weren’t great essays, anyway.
They conflated too many things,
Sketchy historical details
Of a strange Viking chieftain-king
Who maybe had a bone disease,
Plus whatever was happening
In the moment, on the commute,
Around these desert towns that spring.
Sometimes you want to claim yourself,
And sometimes you want to escape,
And sometimes you try both at once
And fail both ways. To imagine
Being the serpent in that tree,
A boneless invading Viking
Carried to battles on a shield,
And a hermit in the desert
Who drove a long commute to work,
All of these things, and all at once,
And to try to make phrases dance
While pronouncing reasonably
Rare dreams . . . The great willow turned brown.
Maybe the irrigation stopped.
The egg-yellow house was bought out.
The king left no bones in the ground.