When struck with a sounding ax, a tree’s echo indicates its health
If I swing the sounding ax
and listen to the alder.
If I listen at the bathroom door for you
a week after the morning nausea fades.
If the sky, like a test strip, goes lavender then cream.
If the sky hardens to glass, the alder to shatter mark.
If water or bores. If the cause matters.
If this low chime is all.
If you rise each morning
like a temple raised from leaves.
If the alder lives on, green and thirsting
for the same old light.
If you flush. If I hear you stand.
If you place your ear to the door.
If I cover my own ears and listen
for punk-wood, pressure.
If we debate giving up,
then lose our voices
like a screw dropped in grass.
If I sound the tree in a slow circle
and twigs fall in our hair.
If two children tumble out,
and they look
so much like living children,
but less visible,
nameable only in weeks.
If we watch them draw circles with chalk.
If they seem to know each other.
If twining. If rootedness.
If the children float back in the tree
and something happens between us,
something like the opposite of branching,
a joining in the silence and shade.