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October 23, 2019 Poetry

Ode to the Moon Trees

Robert James Russell

Ode to the Moon Trees photo

Bitter vacuum of space, limitless black-cold: 
here, five-hundred seeds 
orbit the Moon.
It’s the 1971 Apollo 14 mission, 
and the Forest Service Chief says,
We’ll shuttle up loblolly pine, sycamore,
sweetgum, redwood and Douglas fir. 

He says, Let’s see how greenlife handles the trip.
Back on earth, shock and awe: planted,
the seeds germinate; there’s no discernable
difference in their make-up. So they’re given 
away as gifts by the President, planted
on college campuses, in city centers, 
affixed with plaques to mark their terrible
cosmic journey. But we forget 
that trees grow carefully, with reason, 
and forty-eight years later, 
all that’s left is a master list 
where an asterisk denotes a specimen 
no longer alive.

 

 

image: Doug Paul Case


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