Oak Trees on Fourth Street
Copyright 2003 by Tom King
My brother and I were never much attached
To earth; remorseless clay that never grieves
To catch our bones should ever we descend
The warm red earth enfolding fallen leaves.
When I was young we climbed the oaks out back.
My mother couldn't bring herself to watch.
She closed the kitchen curtains; lowered the shades,
And left us swinging limb to branch to crotch.
High up among the brittle boughs we sat
Long golden afternoons and fiery dusks,
Where God would whisper soft among the leaves,
The secret things He only shared with us.
When last I saw my brother he was climbing
Still higher slipping upward toward the light
But down there in the hard red clay he left
His bones behind; in payment for the flight
Nor was he last of those I’d lose among
The branches high and airy.
Did they hear, God whisper secrets, somehow I did not?
And is that why He’s left me waiting here?
High among the branches I drink sunlight
That trickles down among the leaves and boughs
Listening hard to hear a secret whispered
The one in all the years, I’ve missed somehow.