Deborah L. Humphreys

tree of life
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some trees give

shade, the briefest showers of pink-edged

china petals in the face of wind

the frosted whiteness of birch or the witness of oak

some trees are like that

 

            we are not some trees

 

we are the brave ones, native to this city block

with the stinky, gooey blood of battle

around the gnashes, the gnarly bumps

 

            we are these

proud trees, kin to the tree of life

in a distant eden. here on thomas street

magaly, edwin, and latoya together

stretch to look up to see

tiny swatches of green wave teasingly

safe at the top, then turn insides out

to announce the coming of yet another storm

 

            we are not just some trees

look at the way we have grown up fast

along the concrete borders of a street

with red-clay rowhouses, the repetitious sounds of letters

escaping through kinderclass windows and the left-behind-for-us

memories of other families who have known

what we now see

 

look

how strong, how fiercely we have held on

you can’t keep us down. even this cold weave of steel chain fence

cannot stop out stubborn push

up from tenacious roots, straight to sun