Friday, September 20, 2013

Standing Watch: Questions for an Ancient Tree in a Chicago Park

by Jim Rapp

Yellow tape defines a space;
anchored to a pole that holds,
suspended overhead,
a backboard and a hoop;
wrapped around a tree
whose ancient girth
seems capable of
enfolding eight of the slender,
blue-clad men standing watch
over the bloody scene of
thirteen attempted murders.
Young men they,
trained and badged to watch,
born more than a century
after the wizened tree
began its watch over –
who remembers what;
a farm yard, a city lawn,
and now at last, a battlefield,
parading as a children’s
playground?

Does it grieve –
this perennial giant –
remembering other days
when carefree hearts
enjoyed its shade,
raced to climb its heights,
freely shared its joys,
or does it merely
bear mute witness to
a city’s daily slaughter;
just so much more
of what it’s leaves have
had to cover – every fall –
a century’s worth of falling;
watching reds, yellows,
browns – the precious gold
of every Autumn –
covered with the pallid,
white of every Winter,
rise again in virulent passion
every new Summer?

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