Laurel Oak

by Drucilla Wall Issue: Fall 2016 Special Issue on Forests
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.”

Drucilla Wall

Drucilla Wall’s book of poetry, The Geese at the Gates, Salmon Poetry, received positive reviews from The Irish Times, the Galway Advertiser, Western American Literature, and others. She is co-editing a collection of poetry and essays—Thinking Continental—forthcoming from University of Nebraska Press in 2017. Her second collection of poems is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry in 2018. Individual poems and essays appear in various literary journals, and are anthologized in such books asRed Lamp, Black Piano: The Caca Millis Anthology; People Who Stayed: Southeastern Indian Writing After Removal; and True West: Authenticity and the American West. She holds a Ph.D. in English from University of Nebraska and is Associate Teaching Professor in English and Poet-in-Residence at University of Missouri-St. Louis.