Willow

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The dappled willow thrived where

the waterlogged yellow cypress had

withered.

 

“They’ll drink all the water you can give ‘em,”

said the tree farmer,

throwing the willow in my pickup.

 

Over two summers the shrub,

un-pruned and untamed

affirmed his wisdom.

The curly limbs,

spotted mane

spread an informal,

but stylish presence

in the mulch.

 

We were away during the ice storm,

trees blocking roadways,

cars piling up,

power outages,

school closures.

 

But, the morning after my arrival,

I lifted the shade to

an ice-coated willow,

its wiry branches

painfully prone,

but shimmering

in the daybreak.

Was the shrub

now permanently

deformed,

no longer simply

untamed?

 

Was the very water that

empowered

such

abundance

now,

in its altered state

leaving the willow

vulnerable,

crippled,

weakened?

 

An “unseasonable” winter’s

thaw answered my question.

 

As the ice was transformed,

the willow’s lifeblood renewed,

its branches sprang back.

 

One that had bent under the

lightest weight of summer leaves,

now pointed

To the North Star.

 

Is there meaning in

 

one willow’s

 

Resistance,

 

Resilience,

 

survival

 

amidst

 

dangerous,

 

seductive,

 

perverse

 

warmth?