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Anthony DeGenaro

Aria for Poland Woods

I imagine this midnight moment’s forest:
Something else is alive
Beside the clock’s loneliness
.                         Ted Hughes

Oak Grove by Ivan Shishkin

Something else is alive in the cedar-sap pines
neatly arranged by time or god or whatever
carves out from the peat soil below Big Rock Trail.
A father has passed away, untimely, as this thing
often is.

As a boy standing a particular height
in harmony with these trees inching taller than I,
I might have believed no father would have
ever died. Nor any mother. Now the boys
who traced our heights upon
these trees have lost one, the other, both.

This is all to say I am lost in the woods.
This is all to say I do not know
that melancholy lurks as this creek flows
babbling the secrets we told decades ago.

Your dad was alive then, or we buried your mom
underneath a pine tree halfway across the country,
and your mom underneath a hill close to home.
As I amble upon the soil, yet another shovel turns.

Yellow Creek gushes muddy skunk cabbage
turned orange at its roots grasps low-land
and spent grass, awaiting the coming thaw.
Even in October winter looms now
we shiver together first made cold
by sorrow, then by absence.

Among these giants of pulp and bark
swaying to any sad song wafting between
where we may live and the town we were born.
Listen to these parents of men now speaking
among these giants of pulp and bark, I’ve
loved their boys for so long now, they
are not lost – just elsewhere – another season,
perhaps another row of maple and evergreen
where sun cuts through in such a way that
specters of them float off of hot soil:

they almost speak, or offer a hand, or wander off
mumbling about how sudden this life
changes into that life, and then, like the now-still
trees, are finally quiet.


About the writer:
Tony DeGenaro is a writing teacher at University of Detroit Mercy and youth arts instructor in Southeastern Michigan. He is a casual runner, baseball, and pop culture fan, and proud doggie dad to Desi the Dachshund.

Image: Oak Grove by Ivan Shishkin (1831-1898). Oil on canvas. 49.2 x 75.9 inches. 1887. Public domain.

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