Saturday, November 15, 2008

Man Thinks He’s a Tree
--headline from a tabloid

At first it was just itchy flakes
on his legs. Thickening. Rough.
Lotions useless. No remedy.
His toes began to curl earthward.
Each step hunkered him, sagged him.
When the tips of his fingers flared
into florescence, and his tousely haircrop
flitted in the breeze, and a starling, and then another
and suddenly ten and then seventy, eighty starlings
all chittering and squawking, plucking ants
from his scalp -- well, then he began:

I used to think I was the class clown, or an uncle.
Once I thought I was smart, when I figured
the radius of my father’s head.
I never thought I was so swell to look at.
Once I thought I was Elvis, knew
I was a fool. I thought I was right

And now this -- I can set down roots.
I can doze all winter like a tuber, no apologies.
Even stand outside all day. Who cares?
Some days my xylem aches.
Fear the wind, my mother told me.
I fear saws and decay, acid rain.

When I was human I thought a tree
could live a thousand years. Now I know
a thousand years is too long.