The doughty oaks

Photo credit: photojock from morguefile.com
Oaks don’t drop their leaves
as elms and lindens do.
They evolved no corky layer,
no special tricks.
They shut off the water.
Leaves hang on withering
tougher than leather.
Wind tears them loose.

Slowly they grow, white oaks
under the pitch pines,
tap roots plunging
deep, enormous carrots.
By the marsh they turn
twisting, writhing
aging into lichens, contorted
like the wind solidified.

In the spring how stubborn
how cautious
clutching their wallets tight.
Long after the maples,
the beeches have leafed out
they sleep in their ragged leaves.
Reluctantly in the buzz and hum
they raise velvet
antlers flushed red,
then flash silvery tassels.
At last vaulted
green chambers of summer.

Ponderous, when mature, as elephants,
in the storm they slam castle doors.
They all prepare to be great
grandfathers, in the meantime
dealing in cup and saucer acorns.

When frost crispens the morning,
they give up nothing willingly.
Always fighting the season,
conservative, mulish.
I find it easy to admire in trees
what depresses me in people.

~ Marge Piercy

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