Dead Matter


When neon ginkgoes fan the window panes
and sycamores unroll their yellow sleeves,
when rust moves through the maple’s palmate veins
and tulip poplars blush with spade-shaped leaves,
when spruces shoot umbrellas, glued in twos,
where purple beeches bifurcate and twist,
when catkins crack and ivy wraps the yews,
a cold-snap snaps, abruptly ends the list.
Then pomp and pigment peel to nature’s rags
and slip into the secret faults of earth
while fruits of labor steep in garbage bags
cooked by the very juices of their birth.

So all forms wilt with mildew, blight, disease.
This guy I used to love studied the trees.

Caki Wilkinson holds an MFA from The Johns Hopkins University. Her poems have appeared in Black Warrior Review, The Cincinnati Review, and The Sewanee Theological Review.

First published in Measure, Volume 3, Issue 1 (2008)