What the Chestnut Tree Saw (August 4, 1944)
by Lois P. Jones
The two of us looked out at the blue sky, the bare chestnut tree glistening with dew ...
and we were so moved and entranced that we couldn't speak. ~Anne Frank
A shape through the skylight—
pale knees crossed like driftwood.
Your face is a small bird,
hands darting in dips and starts
of a pink checkered book.
You track the swoop and lunge of gulls
as flight lingers beneath your lids.
It's August and the window is open
for a breath of air as miner moths flutter
and spawn. Their brood transforms me
to late summer browning, a uniform of decay
I will flush back from. Tonight, only the moon
silvers your eyes as you lay in Peter's arms.
I watch canals stretch like felled trees,
a city quietly cut at the limbs.
Then a day that follows any other night.
A sun rises. A car halts and spills its black-clotted men.
The last scampering as you grab your twill coat,
look up at me, then away.
After the battle of rot, fifty years of fungus
and infested moths, even the steel welds they built
could not prevent the gale storm from snapping my neck.
A crane lifts me, branches grazing the rooftop
the way a boy's knees touch a girl's.
What spring has done to us—white candleblooms
and their pale buds open, then burst.
Listen to Lois read her poem:
First Published: Night Ladder