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The Oak Tree

by Brian Fuchs

A great tree has uprooted,
exposing the branching mass
caked in the red soil of the Western Plains.
What was parched had been made rich and loamy
by the giants that fell before,
pioneering specimens that germinated and made 
a home under the endless horizon of Oklahoma.
The water that made those ancient plants flourish
had come from England and Ireland,
from Galilee and Missouri.
Over many generations, young saplings
grew slowly in the spaces, spread out their branches,
and eventually fell, leaving spaces
that would need to be filled.
Sometimes, two trees would grow together, as one,
entwined, supporting each other, their roots
strengthened by the coupling.
In the fall, acorns would appear on the branches,
tiny seeds ready to germinate and start life as trees.
Acorns became a thicket and then a forest,
spreading out in all directions.
The flaming red soil changed over time,
fertilized, nurtured, enriched.
The acorns have been found scattered,
rooting in Texas and Colorado,
in Alaska and Kentucky.
A tradition of strength and serenity
tested in new soils, clays and sands, 
ultisols, entisols, crider and port silt loam.
This great tree had been fused with another,
struck down in unexpected storms,
lying silently for years, its trunk clinging on.
The survivor stretched out new branches
to cover the fallen companion,
showing strength in tragedy,
learning to fill the space left empty.
The new branches filled quickly with
squirrels, spiders, and bird nests.
For years, the tree continued on,
the undergrowth wrapping the fallen trunk
in masses of green leaves, the trunk remaining
attached as a reminder.
The branches became only sparsely covered with leaves
as the tree started to weaken with age,
never losing majesty or dignity.
and then the great tree joined its long-fallen partner, 
stretched out parallel to recapture the days together.
Thick trunks cradled the massive plant,
trunks of trees that had only been saplings a few years ago,
trunks of trees that have become mighty themselves.
They stretch impressively toward Heaven,
mimicking the once proud figures
now so apparently absent in the canopy.
The sun can once again burst through,
but this is no longer the harsh and arid place
it was when ancestors first arrived.
In the clearing a small field of flowers
will spring up in memorial,
attracting the beauty of birds and insects
until new saplings join the congregation.
That great tree now waits for the shade of youth,
and the embrace of vines, and its new mission of
enriching the soils for future generations.

06/07/2014

Author's Note: for Billy Tucker, Papa

Posted on 08/31/2018
Copyright © 2018 Brian Fuchs

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Kristina Woodhill on 09/02/18 at 04:09 PM

As one who is constantly awed by trees, I find the story telling here so intelligent, and rich and deep as the soil used and nurtured by these mighty trees.

Posted by Chris Sorrenti on 09/02/18 at 06:49 PM

Great descriptiveness throughout. Thanks for sharing this Brian.

Posted by Brian Francis on 09/04/18 at 07:16 PM

I love the way you personify the trees in this piece. Nice work poet. Poems are made by fools like we. But only... --bf

Posted by Glenn Currier on 09/08/18 at 04:14 PM

What a beautiful tribute to the tree. I too love trees and yours is a poetic biography and epitaph at the same time. It reveals a lover of trees and field and Oklahoma. In the past few days I crossed the Red River twice, I had occasion to look out over the fields and fog produced by the river at dawn marveling at God's handiwork. Although Oklahoma does not have a lot of the majestic beauty I've encountered in Colorado, I feel at home in O.K. and love visiting. Your poem makes me again linger there in delight. Thanks Brian.

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