“Look at that tree,” David said. We’d been following the snowmobile trail that runs past our house for several miles, the fresh snow well packed for our cross-country skis. “It looks like a tree in England.”
The oak tree does look like many of the trees we saw as we walked across England last summer. Sitting at the edge of a yard bordering an open field, the tree stands by itself, which is common in English pastures — a single tree with an unimpeded crown, standing grand and full, left to grow on its own for decades and decades.
I know this oak tree, and in fact have been so stuck by it I wrote a poem about it many years ago. The poem asks a question I’ve yet to answer.
If there’s an oak I recall
from year to year for the fineness
of its winter crown against dusk sky
as I climb from woods to cross
the Bailey’s fields, its branches a black
articulation against last light,
do the scars of the intervening year,
matter, all those months without considering
this simple view, now new
and long remembered all at once?