Kings River Canyon
This old, bald pine has to know it’s dying.
Maybe it over heard the whispers
of evergreens, growing on these
glacier-sheered cliffs, or maybe
the pine knows it intuitively
as it knows yearly it has to manage
to squeeze out a thin ring
between heart and bark.
Only in the middle does this
old tree show any green.
The top ten feet are marked
entirely by dead branches.
In the lower twenty feet,
bees nest in a charcoal scar
from an old fire.
They form a blossom, brushing
back a ribbon of sunshine
that threads itself through
shade and ground fog.
At its base squirrels abandon
old tunnels to dig new ones. Yet,
this tree still roots down in the face
of winter, in the face of a spring thaw.
In the grip of summer’s
morning breeze, it creeks
as it stands solitary and cinctured
by a semi-circle of saplings
too supple to creak.
Joe Milosch is a retired highway inspector and MFA-trained poet. His 2005 book, The Lost Pilgrimage Poems, was published by Poetic Matrix Press. His upcoming volume, Landscape of Hummingbird and Woman, will be published as part of our Summer 2013 Season of Poetry. This piece is a selection from that manuscript.