By Sheila Black
He could have split them, each with a memory of the other,
And put them each into a separate world – Mark Jarman
I did not know for a long time how those trees came to be or why my
neighbor called them “suckers,” then spat on the frozen pavement.
In spring I almost loved them, the weeping fronds, lily pale “but with an
unpleasant odor.” It would take me equally long to disabuse myself of the
notion that you were the shining world, the tree of heaven to which I
might aspire. They colonized my yard, I mean, each root
a branch under the earth, the twilight side in which the tree so tendriled,
frail is seen in its true form, a monster, a ladder of rungs leading nowhere,
blossom-stars like candles going out in a deep water. And yet I would recall
you as the ailanthus remakes itself from the smallest live shoot,
sucker, moving out again through its worm- tunneled earth and up
towards a heaven, for which it reaches, merciless, with its multiple arms.