Willow - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Willow

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?

 





About the author

Len Shindel

Len Shindel began working at Bethlehem Steel’s Sparrows Point Plant in 1973, where he was a union activist and elected representative in local unions of the United Steelworkers, frequently publishing newsletters about issues confronting his co-workers. His nonfiction and poetry have been published in the “Other Voices” section of the Baltimore Evening Sun, The Pearl, The Mill Hunk Herald, Pig Iron, Labor Notes and other publications. After leaving Sparrows Point in 2002, Shindel, a father of three and grandfather of seven, began working as a communication specialist for an international union based in Washington, D.C. The International Labor Communications Association frequently rewarded his writing. He retired in 2016. Today he and his wife, Maxine, live in Garrett County where he enjoys writing, cross-country skiing, kayaking, hiking, fly-fishing and fighting for a more peaceful, sustainable and safe world for his grandchildren and their generation Contact the author.
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