Bestiary for the End Times

American Chestnut (Castanea dentate)
Across the Eastern woodlands
and you too I’ve never seen
pushing your hundredfold hands
against the emptied firmament
not seen great bonfires encircled
in small clearings in the woods
where centuries of children sang
to you, your charred seedpods
comforting beyond words and
rich as honeyed earth, your lush
oysters slipping from their spiny shells
beneath those scalloped saw-toothed leaves
that scratched the clouds to tickle down
the rain and bear enchanted isles
of tusky growth in a milky sea of grass
afloat with creamy blossoms fresh
as children’s flesh, now cloistered in
the blight that blackens you
from your dendrites to your failing flocks
even the birds abandoned you, your skies
raining a vaporous silence.
 but you, you wait
keep still, forever in the winter of your days
spent dreaming of the beauty you’ll sprout
when at last your springtime comes
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