We were reading stories
and the neighbors’ kids came round.
They sat, solemn, in the living room,
while Jean recited her cat book
and I served pink lemonade.
There were brownies.

Two boys leaped up, finally,
when the sitting was over
and ran along the driveway
to the ponderosa on the south.

I would have done the same once,
far too shy for small talk and small rooms:
a better fit
for a harbor of branches,
of pine straw and damp earth.
They were already hanging,
suspended like sloths,
when their mom called out:
“Guys! Be careful there!”

We don’t have kids.
No boys had ever swung
in the giant tree before,
and for me it lived
respectfully apart, an elder,
with a twin on the north side,
keeping the house between them
as a kind of indulgence.

When we turned to look
I noticed one limb
had torn from the trunk,
some way up —
a narrow elliptical scar
the color of country cream,
the scales of the arm less bright,
no longer that rich orange-gray
ponderosas get.
An old injury. Who knows how long?

Apparently you can take an injury
like that through the seasons,
through one summer after another
until it is almost hidden
by new, reluctant growth,
by weather,
by the furrows
and the plates of age.

One thought on “Ponderosa

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