Saturday, September 16, 2017

After the Storm

Athens, Georgia
September 12, 2017

The air is fragrant with leaves and limbs,
snapped by last night’s storm. Fresh green
corpses litter the road with tips of trees.
These would glisten silver in sun. There is
none — shall we light a candle and sing?

The unripe mast is harvested too soon.
Green acorns cling to the crotches of white
oak leaves. Small nodules bead the broken
stems beneath the leaves of a Southern
Red. Let them return their tannins to earth.

In the forest, root balls of red clay rise
into new clearings: another Northern Red
Oak down, upended by weight and wind.
Small saplings of green ash begin their sprint
to light. The pungent air is ripe with rot.

Blue-green needles of a loblolly stand
mingle with conelettes of short leaf pine.
They spike the nose with an acrid clean.
Green gum balls litter dirt with a latent
grace. Still air is sweet, but laced with death.

Beyond the gently rolling Georgia hills,
her new growth woods rising over red clay,
her ragged fields recovering from cotton,
the forgotten graves of warriors and slaves —
our world is a shattered, fragrant place.

We live in the wake of weaponized storms.

Beyond our sacred borders I see bodies
littering beaches, and the tortured eyes
of a lost child wracked by what we un-
leashed. The air will not wash clean. Will
we just light a scented candle, and sing?