A Lexicon of Trees

by Britton Gildersleeve



The apricot my grandmother planted the day

that I was born. She made me fried pies

in her grandmother’s skillet. I have it still.


The frangipani down the street from the villa

(plumeria its real name). White and rose

and yellow flowers. Climbing with the ants

up its twisted trunk, I thought I was invisible.


The mimosa on 8th Street. Into late fall

she offered me feather flowers

that desperate year. Perhaps she saved me.


And henna—white flowers in that barren

desert where I tried to nest, pruning twigs

that did not fit. So much of love

is like this.


Japanese maple: scarlet against white dogwood

break of bloom. Shallow-rooted, it holds

earth together. Once, love was like this.


Crape myrtle, cherry red and toddler pink

lace-edged corsage on the front of a house

where love solved its first puzzles.


It is the way trees mark the verges

of journeys, dendritic timelines

blossomspill   leaffall   barebranch.

Originally published in This Land, Vol. 5, Issue 20, October 15, 2014.