Sunday, May 7, 2023

But Nothing Is Finished

The ash tree stands flanked by stakes.
It can’t be a character
You could find fascinating,

Since character is language,
Persons conjured out of talk,
Vivid in their words and thoughts.

This ash tree’s not a person.
It has no voice of its own.
The stakes are looped to the trunk.

The idea is to stand up
Against the strong canyon winds
Until roots grow deep enough.

The ash tree is leafing out.
It has a chance. Doing well
So far, maybe a lifetime

Of human stories from now
It will be a grand shade tree.
Still won’t be a character

Unless you loan it a voice.
Watching its leaves, the mind drifts
Into a disenchantment.

What if all the characters
In all the stories were robbed
Of characteristic talk,

Leaving plot and description
Without direct quotation—
No voices in fairytales,

Scriptures, national epics,
Or literary novels,
Cartoons without word balloons?

A bird trills. The staked ash tree
Bends and straightens in the wind.
The day brightens. Night comes in.

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