(An exercise in near rhyme)
In Florida’s woods there stands a giant oak,
Still silo-girthed but leaning now and lifeless,
The trunk bone-white, stripped of all its bark,
The spectral limbs shattered, gone, or leafless.
But at the top the ospreys build a home,
And just below that nest, with manic zeal,
Two scalloping squirrels shape a cozy room,
A rotten limb unsocketed leaving a hole.
Nearby, another cell, a flicker’s nest,
And drilling on the trunk the earnest mother ;
Nearby, bees prepare a bear’s repast;
And lower still, the termites mine the cadaver.
This oak, then– lifeless, nearly ossified –
Is more alive today than before it died.
Reprinted with permission of "Lyric," Vol. 76