Trees by Errol Rubenstein

In their naked and undisguised irregularity, trees
Are shocking to me,

Trunk hunkered in the ground,
Roots spread like eels, scrutinizing the soil,
A woodpecker’s knothole
Making a home for some tiny starling, titmouse or chickadee–
Cavity-nesters in the heartwood.

A small rodent, a grey squirrel perhaps,
Nestled with its young in its drey.

Branches splayed out
In uneven patterns, first large, then smaller
As they reach and yearn
For sky,
A promise kept to grab the sun, the clouds and pull

Them down. Leaves, in spring just turning green.
But in winter fallen,
Branches, clotted bark, signposts to sidewalk
Walkers counting the trunks
To measure their leaving, their way home.