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