Not Yet Spring
Soft flakes make a white coverlet on over wintered leaves and needles. That particular tree appears as a happenstance of thin forked trunk and bare limbs. The woman is not looking at the tree. She sees a docile yard and house amid a cluster of small, tidy homes in a secure, rural community of aging people. A branch of that tree brushes a dusting of snow from her head as she follows the realtor to the front door. This is where she will spend her widowhood. After sixty years with the same man.
The tree has already leafed, a deep magenta accent against the yellow siding of her new house, when her daughter comes from far away to help with the moving. They arrange her furnishings just as they had been in the old house, even down to placement of the paintings, pillows, photographs, cranberry glass inside the hutch and German steins on top. This reassures both women. Containers of tansy, lavender and lemon balm, liberated from the old garden, rest against the tree’s trunk.
Their Anniversary Month
She looks out the window beyond her computer screen through the burnished leaves of the Japanese maple tree. A pleasing contrast to the green of raked lawn, tall oaks, and sighing pines. She has learned to do research on the Internet. Acer palmatum, botanical name comes from its leaf, which has five or more deep lobes and resembles a human hand. The tree’s nursery nametag has disintegrated. She chooses a name for it from among the 100 cultivated varieties of Japanese maple. Bloodgood. She imagines her daughter and grandchildren smiling at her whimsy.
After the First Frost
The leaves of Bloodgood are transmuted now to brilliant red, festive as a giant Christmas poinsettia. Her tree has thrived in the dappled shade. It will become, with maturity, a rounded silhouette, wider than its height. These traits—roundness and the need for protection from harsh light—they share. The thought engages her imagination. She knows her tree will continue to mark the seasons. She plans to be around, to notice its clusters of purple flowers. Rake up its winged seedpods. Brush wet snow off its bare branches when winter comes.
spiral down when blossoms pass,
meet the turning earth