November’s cold-hearted shadow falls over the backyard.
“Too bad,” our guests shook their heads,
Glancing up at the bare, gray branches of the towering black walnut.
“Too bad we missed the tree in the summer.”
“It must have been beautiful.”
“Now it’s just drab.”
A faint chill, hinting at approaching winter,
Sent the remaining dry, clinging leaves into a sigh.
Later that evening, after the guests went home,
I visited my tree (only the tree and I know that we belong to each other).
In July, her deep green shade had protected me
From high desert afternoons,
As I watched our Shih Tzu play.
“Look up,” said my tree in July, as she offered her sturdy branches, heavy with green walnuts,
To squirrels and sunlight.
Now, in November, I brace myself for shorter daylight hours
And wonder what my tree will do for the next several months.
“Look down,” she whispers, not bothered at all
When people say “too bad.”
“Go down deep,” she says, “go where the roots do their secret work after it snows.”
My tree shares her grandmother spirit
With those who know she is more than enough,
Even when the work is unseen.
Even in the quiescence of winter, as her roots
Lie between resting and ready.
Even as her sapwood slowly dies,
To become the heartwood core she’ll need for the journey ahead.