Arbor day grade by grade
school children file forth teachers in tow to
sit on the little brick wall at the school door, meet again
grandparents in the role of Block Island Gardeners.
And do the children taller since last year, changed
remember what Arbor Day is? Hands shoot up, eyes
squint in eastern sun. Some teachers towed
have approached this day in classrooms, explored
its roots, asked students benefits of trees.
Shade, food, furniture, places to climb, tennis
rackets, fishing poles, home to birds, list endless and children
keen in knowledge of trees. And the red maple from last year, how
did it do? Mulling, a glance at toes, so long
ago, Dad mowed, deer ate, or not quite sure,
and class by class, smiling gardeners take from their treasury
and hand to hand as students file back bestow
on every child a tree, and every teacher, and the principal, and superintendent, and still
there are abundant trees.
This year not tree but shrub, forsythia with stout roots
splaying wand-like branches. Unloved by deer, hardy.
A plant to wrap a fist around, a plant
everyone knows. And with each plant a stake, bright
orange to ward off mowers. “Way cool” from students, and
teachers counsel carrying sticks low, below
all eyes, and gardeners counsel
immediate planting, water.
And afterward still forsythia and wouldn’t you like, take one and
well I’d love one.
Easy hole to dig, easy bucket
of water to carry and the unforeseen forsythia
waves near its orange stake in grass
wound around by driveway. To welcome. And allowed
to be unpruned, a golden tree.
— Frances Huggard Migliaccio