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  • Route 7 Review

Michael Colonnese—Old Oak With Mistletoe

For my brother, Joe

For nearly two hundred years,

it drew strength from this place,

but lately its crown of branches

looks sparser every fall—with broken

and diseased limbs—and its massive trunk

surrounded by an ocean of black asphalt.

On a small curbed island

of hard-packed urban dirt,

where tiny cubes of broken windshield glass

outnumber last year’s acorns,

it stands like an abandoned watchtower,

a lighthouse without a keeper.

In the canopy above,

clusters of parasitic mistletoe drain

its remaining sap, and yet this oak

endures, spared perhaps as a token,

some landscape designer's sentimental nod

to an older kind of seasonal longing.

And perhaps it’s only poetry to imagine

that this ancient tree must long for its compatriots,

a lost forest of the harvested—

chestnut, maple, larch, and pine—

or wonder why an unlucky few seem fated

to die upright, slowly, and alone.

Michael Colonnese

Michael Colonnese is the author of Sex and Death, I Suppose, a hard-boiled detective novel with a soft Jungian underbelly, and of two prize-winning poetry collections, Temporary Agency and Double Feature. He lives in the mountains of western North Carolina, near Asheville.


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