Each leaf a single finger,
pointing at every angle,
smooth in the dense, bronzy canopy
that had expanded skyward
for a hundred years,
a mere sapling when the house
was built beside it.
Each leaf an exclamation,
terminus of trunk, limb, and twig,
pulsing the root telegraph
of water, earth, and sun.
I shot your portrait, the rippling bark
filling the frame around you,
second presence blending with your hair.
We knew the comings and goings
of the raccoon nested in a hollow
higher than our roof. We saw
the songbirds of spring and summer
taking rest, the eagle alone in the dawn
on his way to the river’s hunting ground.
The black breath of the storm swept
from the west, killing the power,
and caught me at the shop,
away from you, our daughter with me.
“Put him on speaker,” she said.
Your voice faded and breaking,
“I am in the basement, with the cat,”
as if that would comfort us.
I would have run through the torrents
and lightning to get home,
only our daughter was with me,
her hand on my arm.
Somewhere a transformer exploded.
Your voice hesitated, “Out the back,
it lit up for a second. The tree,
there’s nothing there—just bucketin’
down like a feckin’ machine.
Sounds like the sea rushing,
now the siren, can you hear me?
I am in the basement, with the cat.”