Braving the Wilds

Field Notes from the Suburban Jungle

Tag: Nature

New England Mille Feuille

You are the oak tree that
incorporated the entirety
of a bicycle into your trunk,
an oddity of your growth

habits, to encompass the bike
left behind by a child who
no longer wanted it. Your
bark, spilling over the

rusted crossbar like a
primordial ooze,
viscous and precariously
supportive, until the

ultimate, Shel Silverstein
sacrifice left you an
obliging stump, revealing
the rings of your past:

widely spaced and pink
at the center, scarred by
draught, fire, trauma at
the radial lines, which you

carried with a steadfast
stoicism. You threw your
acorns to the forest floor,
rich In decomposing foliage.

There is no closure, only
nurture, taking what you have
learned to bear fruit, the caps of
which made shrill whistles

for children, reminding the world
of their undeveloped presence, shaded
by a collective canopy. No, you will never
be the Charter Oak, boastful, old,

rubbing knotted elbows with
King Charles, pompously
granting unprecedented autonomy
to the State of Connecticut.

Your wood will never comprise
the governor’s desk; but we will
look to you, noble savage, and
patiently await your counsel;

when your leaves are the size
of a mouses’s ear, we will plant corn,
we will feed even the ungrateful children,
we will nourish the world.

Seasonal Cottage

When the grass began to sprout
From the swathes of grey like
Tufts of newborn hair, starkly
Green and colorful against the dead
Landscape, ripe for the
Awakening: ’twas a signal,
A call to the Lake to install the
Porch screens. We’d inspect the
Damage from a hard-played previous
Summer, winter months stacked
Against the wall, tucked behind
Antique wicker purchased
Three generations ago.

Barn swallows, chimney swifts,
House sparrows and non-native
Starlings didn’t take kindly
To having their nests moved,
So we avoided construction altogether,
Pinching our whitened fingers
Between hook and eye closures,
Some winking with rust. The screens
streaked with mould, others
Grey, having just been stapled to
Chipped wooden frames, homemade
By the over-taxed man who
Funded this seasonal household
At present.

“Just like New York!” he’d say,
As if this porch were the
Epitome of fine-tuned engineering;
Yet we all knew he hated the City,
In “its constant state of decay.”
“Renewal, Dad,” I’d protest,
Thinking of the thousands of men
And women, scurrying on, over, under
Its streets, changing the hardscape on which
They trod with heavy feet.