The black walnut tree in my neighbor’s front yard has been part
of the landscape of our nation since Grover Cleveland was president,
since we rushed to the Klondike for gold,
since Olds founded his motor company,
its magnificence flourishing year by year.
The tree’s dark branches silhouette the sky,
green and gold leaves, filigreed, sift the light.
A shining example, it does not seek to impose
its way of life on anyone.
They say that the root systems of trees are fed by the branches
and the branches are fed by the roots,
which is to say, if the roots or branches die, so does the tree,
but as long as it is striving, it lives.
Let it shine.
No one, not even Donald Trump himself, could ever really own that tree.
It is infused with the breath of life by the Creator.
Our president is a big man. His determined shadow measures
our poverty, finding it the width of a continent, the size of a nuclear bomb.
I cannot help but wonder if he has ever been ravaged,
taken for who he is, his unrealized nakedness
touching the earth.
Laura Engle lives in Aurora, Oregon with her husband Todd, their goats and chickens, and a small animal that pretends to be a dog named Hervey. They are avid, practically militant, gardeners who have planted more than 40 trees on their half-acre parcel in the hope that they will one day, seed by seed, blossom by blossom, take over the world.