by James Cochran
Gather firewood to decipher inscrutable bark beetle
hieroglyphs inscribed on pale wood of standing dead tree.
slow tilt of trunk giving way to chainsaw’s whine
and gravity’s quiet persuasion.
2 persimmon trees stand beside ancient burial mound
branches interwoven dropping muted orange fruits
for deer and coon and me to eat.
I sit in October chill between their trunks,
against my grandparents’ gravestone
knocked askew by grazing cows
and gaze at pasture
wishing cleansing tears would fill my eyes…
instead a cold rain begins to fall.
I rise and tuck journal beneath thin shirt
passing through black walnut grove,
fragrant green husks littering ground,
a hundred globes destabilizing my steps,
their earthy meat cocooned in convoluted armor,
only free to those with patience, gloved hands
or stained fingers, hammers and picks for prizing
flesh from shell, the rest of us cast them away
or take batting practice with nephews
knocking them past fence
into barn lot.
Later, sky clears, pale sun illuminating
October’s last monarchs perched on
butterfly bush. Mother says 5 generations
to fly all the way back to Mexico,
so they’d best be on their way.
© 2022 James Cochran All rights reserved.