All at Once

Trees have whole streets

                                           of when they were planted

plaqued with when the city is

                                              to inherit them dead

of age almost all at once as if

                                            a natural bombing.



People see a bill not figured in,

                                                      a blood red

collection come

                   like fall’s leaf    due without fail

an unseen cost of the design:

                               pale bud and yellow blossom—



though seeming little to do this time

                                       with tense spring

in the window

                                of dead and dying trees’ terms up,

with expecting a life by life replacement—

                     not this plague of life’s time



as a season across the city.

                                             By trial we do, but don’t

know how death counts the rings

                                                   from trees to clocks,

species to singled soul

                                          at its hour. or on history’s days we all die at once.

Ed Roberson, "All at Once" from To See the Earth Before the End of the World. Copyright © 2010 by Ed Roberson.  Reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.
Source: To See the Earth Before the End of the World (Wesleyan University Press, 2010)
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