The Forest Primeval

by Paul J. Willis

I am five years old. It is a lamentable
week—or two weeks—after Christmas in Anaheim.
All the way around the block there are
Christmas trees at mute attention on the curb.
They are stripped of lights and stars and angels,
and lean against the garbage cans with only a trace
or two of tinsel, tawdry in the morning light.

These trees are lonely, I decide. They need
to be brought together somewhere to commiserate,
to regain a semblance of miracle. Somewhere
like my backyard. One by one, on a rescue mission,
I drag them down the sidewalk and around our house
and plant them one against the other, a thick
entangling of grateful boughs. All afternoon

I crawl inside their fragrant shade, touching open
pockets of pitch and feeling needles rain down
softly in my hair. The trees are happy to be so close.
They recall what it was like to flourish in peace, to offer
their presence, young as they are, an ancient grove.
It is a delight to have them here, in my backyard, here
where we will grow together for many years,
where I will always be the gift beneath these trees.

—from Visiting Home

Poem of the Month: January 2014


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