The Tree of Heaven’s lost its winter bloom
Of plastic bags. The leaves are coming out—
A fizz of reddish green afloat
Over the garbage it sprouted from.
You wonder why it bothers. Hasn’t it heard
Nobody’s interested in that kind of thing…?
A memory: six or seven, visiting
A dying uncle. Cocked against his sickbed
I flashed my new Swiss Army Knife, and fanned
The blades, grinning, as if I’d hauled that shine
Out from some pristine darkness of my own.
“What do you want to show me such things for?”
He muttered. I was hurt! I’d thought the gesture
Would please him. I begin to understand.

This Issue

November 5, 1998