by Jeri McCormick

Assurances of Trees

Death has come and gone again
and I walk my loss on paths
in northern woods, where high
presences weave a canopy

of comfort, recite a canticle
of grief. The oaks, brown
as monks in their rumpled habits;
the firs serene and symmetrical

in their thick green vestments;
birches wild as evangelists
waving their holy-ghost arms—
an ecumenical forest densely

sprung from leaf-nurtured soil,
sanctified centuries ago
by tribes of the lake country.
I think of my own forebears,

frontier-drawn from the colonies,
persevering across New World
generations, their branches hung
with hardship. So many offspring

they saw into life, so many buried
in mountain graves and city plots.
Still, we abide; tenacious, root-
sustained, we hold our ground.

-First appeared in Cup of Poems, No. 8