An [Itchy] Affection

I love trees in a not-quite irrational sort of way.

I love them in the summer, their shade a welcome respite from heat. The way the light is green when you stand beneath them.

I love them in the fall as they turn and fall, though their doing so stirs the melancholy in my, a preparation for the long winter coming.

I love them (maybe best?) in winter, their skeletal-ness. (Linda Pastan: “leaves drop away / revealing the structure / of the trees. / Good bones, / as my father would say / drawing the hair from my face…”

And I love them in spring, when they bud overnight, mysteriously, magically.

Know what I don’t love? Pollen. Tree pollen is super high here now, and it takes most of the small amount of self-control I have not to scratch my eyes out, drainage gurgling down my throat (“Like when you swallow and you can feel it,” said Jonah in the car on the way to school).

But my affection is strong, nonetheless. And here is a poem by Paul Zimmer saying how that goes for me.

A FINAL AFFECTION

I love the accomplishments of trees,
How they try to restrain great storms
And pacify the very worms that eat them.
Even their deaths seem to be considered.
I fear for trees, loving them so much.
I am nervous about each scar on bark,
Each leaf that browns. I want to
Lie in their crotches and sigh,
Whisper of sun and rains to come.

Sometimes on summer evenings I step
Out of my house to look at trees
Propping darkness up to the silence.

When I die I want to slant up
Through those trunks so slowly
I will see each rib of bark, each whorl;
Up through the canopy, the subtle veins
And lobes touching me with final affection;
Then to hover above and look down
One last time on the rich upliftings,
The circle that loves the sun and moon,
To see at last what held the darkness up.

“A Final Affection” by Paul Zimmer, from Crossing to Sunlight. © University of Georgia Press, 2007. (Not reprinted by permission. Sorry Paul. Sorry University of Georgia Press.)

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