Birch Tree

By Marianne Szlyk

For every crape myrtle or towering magnolia we gain,
we lose one birch tree:

The slender stroke of titanium white
among the muddy browns and greens of summer;

The backbend held above the vernal pool
bitter with generations of oak leaves;

The leaves, yellow or green, dance
like wind chimes over the insects’ drone;

The taste of birch beer—
afternoons spent foraging for wintergreen

following trails uphill
away from houses and highways

puzzling over stone walls and apple trees
in the woods that no one seemed to own.

* * *
Marianne Szlyk is a professor at Montgomery College and the editor of The Song Is… Kind of a Hurricane Press recently published her chapbook, Listening to Electric Cambodia, Looking Up at Trees of Heaven. Individual poems have appeared in bird’s thumb, Silver Birch Press’ WHERE I LIVE series, Of/with, Bottlec[r]ap, and other venues.

A Literary Magazine