Temple Grove

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.