From the collection published in 2021, And Don’t Come Back.


Over ten summers
the tree roots reach out
work their way in the darkness
through the cool moist dirt
they creep across the yard
unseen. Their progress
slow. Their work methodical.
Like this:
Extend a finger here. There.
Nudge. Shift. Persuade.
the lichen-freckled stepping-stones
ever so gently
into new positions
Temporary. Provisional. Evolving.
The fingers reach out.

Over ten more summers
the fingers persist.
There is no hurry there is no need
to hurry. The stepping-stones
cant and tilt in the shade of the leaves
A day becoming a year
the schoolchild and his backpack
now the old man and his cane.

Over ten more summers
several times over
the count lost and then one day
The tree falls. The stepping-stones
repositioned so many times over
lie underneath the fallen
and gravestones now and
will not be moved again.

Roots pulled to the surface
uncovered exposed seen.
The twisted fingers on an arthritic hand
finished with its work.


6 thoughts on “Fingers

  1. One of my favourite things about seeing trees in built environments is spotting the ways they have either adapted to or disrupted the manmade structures around them. I like the way the trees assert themselves and often outlive their manmade neighbours.

    • Thank you. I learned some time ago that trees in general live about to the age of a person. Since then many times I have compared this or that tree to my age, and seeing older trees these days, I see myself. We have a tree in our yard who inspired this poem.

  2. Claudia, very well done composition. The song Weeping Willow plays with the same imagery, but with a different approach to expressing the passage of time & memory.

    • Thank you. I really enjoyed the music and how the tree figured into it – there is a cycle of time and trees can represent it or be an image or metaphor or even protagonist, it seems universal. Thank you.

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