I called it the Old Man,
the huge old oak across the road.
It kept me company all these long years,
The gnarled branches slowing bare, then green,
Like an old, slow heartbeat. I think
I liked it best in the winter, when the rising sun
seemed to hover, caught, silhouetted
in the tangle of its branches.
A good old friend.
But one morning we rose after a windy night
to find it split, one half on the ground
the leaves still green, but already wilting.
Deaf to our dismay,
the south half fell soon after,
and it lay north and south,
like a resigned shrug.
What can you do? he seemed to say.
See that smear of rot?
I was sick. It was time.
Then this morning when I went out
I suddenly noticed that behind the fallen tree
stood the old man's sons.
Two young trees I never noticed before
standing behind their father
haloed in the morning sun
a bit embarrassed, perhaps,
but ready to step in
and take up the song.
I'll go too, someday, fall sudden or slow.
Behind me stand the young.
All is as it should be.