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Eulogy for a fallen Elm Tree - Brandon Noel

A morning fog lay down in the backyard,

a burial shroud for “Mr. Tree”, now just a stump

of his former 85-foot-self.

My daughters saw a face there

in the knots and burl of his trunk,

braved hungry bees to fetch wildflowers

and set them in bunches on what remained.


The six-year-old wailed, some deep pain

inside her—she wouldn’t talk about it

but there wasn’t much to say.

It had to come down in the night

and grazed our neighbor’s garage.


My girls spent a few days in the fallen branches,

built secret forts, piled up kindling for future fires,

and touched the dark scar left by lightning,

only speaking in whispers when they did.


The men that hauled the old Elm away

said it was more than 3 centuries old,

likely planted by a forgetful squirrel,

it watched all of Ohio sprout up under it and more.

300 years, a bolt of lightening and the tears of two little girls.


Today it’s early, on the porch, for a weekend—

the grass is soggy with late night rains again,

cloudy webs of ground spiders glow

like patches of fluorescent cotton

as sunlight spreads further away from the dawn.

The words of my teacher Maj come back to me:

Without great longing nothing comes.

Yearn. Bare your breast to the sky.


Let the siren griefs overtake you when they come.

Mourn for the dead, the lost, the missing Cardinal’s song.

Hold wildflowers and honeybees close to your chest.

Let slip the old wants, beset them with wide mouths.

Give to me what you need most,

and I will carve it a home out of thunder wood.


Bio:

Brandon Noel (He/Him), lives in Northeastern Ohio and his work has appeared in Door-Is-A-Jar, Recenter Press, Empty Mirror, The Esthetic Apostle and is a contributing poetry editor for Barren Magazine. He has two full length poetry collections: Mongrel (2015) and Infinite Halves (2017), and a forth coming collection in 2020. He would like to smoke a cigar and drink whisky with you on a porch. Twitter: @The_Mongrel

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