by Kris Spencer
The April-wind kicks up, leaves are
all grown back on the maple. It sings
quieter than the sycamores that line
the street. Branches chafe and chirp as
a squall comes in. When the rain stops,
we sit under its canopy. The light comes
green through the new wood as the tree
drips. We pat and stroke the trunk, finely
shaped and kinked halfway—like a dancer’s
leg. In a hot spell last August, a jay slept
in the shade of the branches, every afternoon
for a week; a mirthy spot of blue, too big
for the cats to bother. In the autumn, my wife
raked the fallen leaves into three hessian bags.
All neatly tied and stacked, they stayed
by the shed all winter. Each sack,
frost-haunched or soaked; sometimes lit
by the pale circle of the sun. Today,
we spread the dark mulch, enough
for the flower-beds and the new saplings.
My daughter tells me, in winter the tree
keeps the sun inside, like a cactus
keeps water. She lifts my arm so it rests
on a low branch, where the feeder hangs;
my son says, you are the tree now.
Kris has work published in journals in the UK, US, Eire, Europe, Australia, India and SE Asia. His debut collection, Life Drawing, was published in 2022 by Kelsay Books. His second collection, Contact Sheets, is due for publication early 2024. Also by Kelsay Books.
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