The Last of His Breed


Shivering in its snowy shrug,
a version arboreal of
an ermine wrap royal,
the red maple’s lonely hand
grasps its place at the end
of its branch.
You could take that literally,
the brown leaf clutching
the spot where a redbud memorial
will rise and erect a replacement,
come spring.

I prefer to view this
forsaken member of another
of my tree’s ring’s ring of children,
all growing into singular sentinels
armed with chlorophyll and
munching on sunlight to feed
the family and Mother Maple.
He devoutly and proudly
grasps that place as well,
as the last of his breed.

Photo ©2014 by Joseph Hesch

Oh, You Shouldn’t Have

The December air hits you, crystalline,
microscopically solid, a gelid dust
that tears the eyes like memories
you thought lost, but were merely
hidden in the back of your closet.
Memories, like winter, always return,
wrapped in their shiny paper and bows,
soon torn and scattered,
revealing that secret you’ve paid for
over and over, and always know’s coming,
like wooly socks and Hershey kisses.
A cold wind embraces your shoulders,
shaking you into another run, another
chest full of fire, more teary visions
of erstwhile angels and immaculate ones.
So you run to escape lung-burning reality,
the chill realization all this
will come again until you become
one with the air, maybe crystalline,
maybe tearing someone else’s eye.
It could be the one who hides their memories
behind ill-fitting old summer things
in that dark space they ignore
until some silent night when the shiver
taps their shoulder and whispers
“Surprise,” sparkling parcel in hand.
It’s always better to give than receive.