My Father's Oak

by Marie Howe

Marie Howe

My father's oak, three years taller, stands taller now than I.
Two crows for company.

One gripping the telephone wire overhead, cries out.
The other, lumbering across the cold dirt like a man in a bar room, answers.

Blocks away, a cloud of starlings startles and lifts in one great wavering
gesture, from one anonymous tree to another,

leaves in a deliberate wind,

and I, standing here, feel for one moment, that the earth does not move.

The lumbering crow stumbles and flies screeching to the wire near the other.

The leaves of the oak flutter, tarnished and dumb.

Speak to me, crows. Teach me to walk like a sailor.
Tell me what this tree superintends.

Last updated November 12, 2022