Out of the nursery and into the garden
where it rooted and survived its first hard winter,
then a few years of freedom while it blossomed,
put out its first tentative branches, withstood
the insects and the poisons for insects,
developed strange ideas about its height
and suffered the pruning of its quirks and clutters,
its self-indulgent thrusts
and the infighting of stems at cross purposes
year after year. Each April it forgot
why it couldn’t do what it had to do,
and always after blossoms, fruit, and leaf-fall,
was shown once more what simply couldn’t happen.
Its oldest branches now, the survivors carved
by knife blades, rain, and wind, are sending shoots
straight up, blood red, into the light again.
Poem copyright ©2008 by David Wagoner, whose most recent book of poetry is Good Morning and Good Night, University of Illinois Press, 2005. Reprinted from Crazyhorse, No. 73, Spring 2008, by permission of David Wagoner.