Doug Ramspeck

What trance they must have fallen
              into.  The ovoid blue-black
fruit dangling as a strange sadness
               in the dusk light.  The gray
bark furrowed into alligator hide.
              The leaves dreaming like fence slats
as the wind goes rushing through them,
              like moths transfixed and bumping
at the porch light, as though it is possible
              for photons to coalesce and know
each other as the sum of their amplitudes,
              in the intimacy of their quantum physics,
like water flowing into water across
              the broken rocks of the river
beyond the trees.
They are long married, our tupelos,
              which we can tell by the way the names
sound against the tongue—blackgum, pepperidge,
              beetlebung, sourgum.  And by the way
the elliptical leaves lean all in one direction—
              at the same time as the trunks turn
subtly away from one another, as though
              they have grown so far from the soil
they can’t go back.  As though they have pledged
              themselves only to the tallest canopy
of leaves, which take the long view,
              which rise even higher than our house
and follow the river until it disappears
              beyond the ridge.
Or maybe not sadness but a weathered
              isolation, the pith chambered as partitions,
the decaying holes where the small animals
              hide, the outstretched limbs
where once we saw the starlings alight
              in their green glossy multitudes, the branches
bending beneath the weight of the abundance.