Whitebirch

by Ann Fisher, 04/20/2020, Lake Leelanau, MI

Adult Category


There is a place where I can lean
and nestle, my back spooning against
the wide, solid trunk of our enormous White Birch.
She’s stood a century’s sentinel beside the lake.
As if carved just for me, this is a space to rest into,
to let go, listen, when I’ve had enough of news.

What ancient, unheard language
can you bring to me
if I just stop, and feel, back and down?
Aging body to aging body.

What is revealed in your long view?
Through blizzards, wind, disease,
what has held you vital at the core, spreading out
your long and twisted branches,
reaching towards the sun, to an open future?

What animates the tiny buds just venturing now,
each year a renewal of your leafy breathing
and shading for the woodpeckers?
A generosity to a mortal foe.
You welcome all, into your circle of embrace.

My sun-splashed face, furrows etched, moves
against your lined, curling, rough-edged bark.
Silver hair on silver bark,
Heart touching deep into heartwood.

In the now of this unknown,
I feel your dignity, the power of age — still standing,
still growing, beyond what’s come and passed.
And what still may be.

There is only now, sheltering here, held,
drawing strength that I taste as my own —
dancing in the north wind, steady, rooted, ageless, sheltering,
able to weather what comes.