We named them and believed them holy:
--Old Nettle Patch
And possibly others, but they've long disappeared
and given way to trim houses and tidy lawns.
We knew the scrape of bark on the belly,
how far a branch could bend before breaking.
Knew how the topmost branches gained pliancy
the higher one climbed, as close to clouds as possible.
Knew the camouflage of leaves in summer, the stark
visiblity against a winter's framework of limbs.
This wasn't play, but something deeper than that.
It wasn't fun: it was everything.
This was what I dreamed of during the long dull
Catholic sermons each Sunday, and I shed
my tights and patent leathers fast as I could
once home, into rough denims & a sweatshirt,
so that I could get on with the real work
of being alive.