|Jan/Feb 2008 Poetry Special Feature|
Fresh Christmas Trees
I see them from the window of the bus.
We are at a traffic light; it is still November,
gray and ordinary, the sky gifting us a rain
that is almost snow, almost ice.
The trees are penned in behind a tall wire fence
as though they might try to escape, to exit what
confines them and find their way back
to a hill with more fortunate trees,
a place they might blend in. But it is too late:
their roots are severed. They are as good as dead.
I sorrow for them. They are no different
from cattle or sheep. Their needles are dark green,
but it is a ruse. They do not truly live,
though they might be said to linger. Soon,
they will be the color and texture
of vinyl, nothing real, nothing that makes
use of earth, of oxygen. The paper banner
pinned to the fence reads "Fresh Christmas Trees,"
and in the darkness lit by palled street lamps,
the rows of leaning pines seem endless.
Trees offer prayers to a god that I cannot
understand. My sorrow means nothing to them
as they wait to slowly desiccate and wither.
They have no choice in what befalls them,
but must endure. As the bus cruises through
the intersection, I turn my head and watch them
fade into the night. I wonder how it must feel
to bear the tempting lure of colored lights
along their boughs like tiny colonies of stars,
to have, so briefly, such a transitory soul.