Deborah Hauser

Self inflicted Gaunt spare laid bare

Planting a Dogwood



Planting a Dogwood

By Roy Scheele

Tree, we take leave of you; you’re on your own.

Put down your taproot with its probing hairs

that sluice the darkness and create unseen

the tree that mirrors you below the ground.

For when we plant a tree, two trees take root:

the one that lifts its leaves into the air,

and the inverted one that cleaves the soil

to find the runnel’s sweet, dull silver trace

and spreads not up but down, each drop a leaf

in the eternal blackness of that sky.

The leaves you show uncurl like tiny fists

and bear small button blossoms, greenish white,

that quicken you. Now put your roots down deep;

draw light from shadow, break in on earth’s sleep.

This poem addresses a newly planted dogwood tree. Rather than focus on the familiar flowers that the tree bears, the speaker reveals what’s beneath the ground; the roots, unseen; but deep and vital.

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