Tag Archives: Great-horned Owl

Old Cottonwood (Poem)

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A century ago, Erda’s church-going farmers planted a row of Cottonwood twigs behind the clay-block church building.  A decade ago, a bald eagle stared down at me from one of these Cottonwood tree’s 50-foot height.  Today, the Cottonwoods are gone, felled by my saw, replaced by the neighbor’s new barn.  I can still see the majestic trees in family photos and in my memory as I walk home from Rabbit Lane, past Old Cottonwood, a 17-foot circumference behemoth.  This poem is for that and the other great pioneer trees that sit split on our porches and burn in our stoves.  (See the Rabbit Lane: Memoir page of this blog, Chapter 5: Old Cottonwood post, for more on Cottonwood trees.)

OLD COTTONWOOD

The old cottonwood is dead,
dead for many years.
Leaves have flown to join with new soil.
Sun-bleached bark has sloughed and fallen.
But the aspect of its reaching is preserved.
The trunk holds steady, the unseen roots entrenched.
A thousand branches reach sharply upwards,
spiny fingers feeling upwards,
still swaying, though stiffly.
Red-tailed Hawk still reconnoiters from a favorite high branch.
Great-horned Owl still softly calls its mate.
And Kestrel now rests in its cavities.