By Alan Weltzien
In the Girard Grove fat larches,
frost-tipped and black-skirted,
flaunt cold nights and past fires.
Eyes trace dead tapering points,
lightning rods thrust skyward
above dusky clutches of branches.
Sun fires the white sheen up high,
mute stark canopy offset by
ridged, scorched trunks, sign
of flaming heat over centuries past.
I stumble, neck tilted, transfixed
by a spangled tier
I have never seen. Suddenly, warming
air relaxes frost’s hold, a larch
releases a bright spray, fleeting November
hatch, a flutter of crystals that curve
and sparkle below robin’s egg blue
sky, a host that trails into vapor.
From another tree, a pulse of sprites
Like a firework near the year’s
short end as it droops and slides
beyond sight seconds after it bursts.
Western larches puff a benediction
on this still Sunday morning as I stroll after my friend.
A solitary woodpecker, cream-breasted,
taps a tree drum, irregular rhythm,
pauses as it walks up and around the trunk
then resumes, the rat-a-tat resonates
over kinnikinick my boots brush,
across the community of barked columns.
As my fingers chill inside my gloves
I hold my breath before the accompaniment.