A Walk in the Woods

Posted: October 13, 2016

Bill Paxton submitted his most recent post on Hackberry several months prior to his passing this past April. When it came time to type the article into the newsletter, we were pleased to discover a poem he had included with this submission. We hope you enjoy it and remember Bill with fondness.

I walked today in the forest.
The trees were all wondering ‘bout me.

The tall ones were singing a wind song.
The shrubs were admiring the trees.

I looked at all I could gather.
It wasn’t enough to behold.

I asked each plant for its story.
They said, “Wait, it will shortly unfold.”

So I sat on a log that had fallen.
“Were you healthy clear up to the end?”

“I was hollow, my friend, when I tipped with wind,
I could see that that was the end.”

“But you are not dead. I see some growth here.”
“It is growth of the fungus that lives.

“It eats me away; works late every day;
And then brackets of mushrooms it gives.”

“But the big hollow room where the coon lived?”
“It’s empty; vacated last night.

“The mother and kids went over the hill;
Their home was a torn apart fright.”

“And the bird nest? The downy woodpecker?”
“She flew with the first morning light.

“There was not support when I crashed down.
But the bark was still holding on tight.

“The warblers vacated at wind shake.
Their exit a very sad chase.”

“And every black ant that has lived here?”
“They’re still in the stump at my base.”

“And the bees that had made the great honey?’
“I’m afraid they have found a new place.”

Well, I sat on the large limb protruding;
The leaves from the twigs were still green.

“Is it your last season for acorns?”
“Yes, we’ll wilt – no longer be green.”

I walked up the trunk that had fallen
To see if the acorns had grown;

But they were all gone – had ejected,
In a last desperate try to be sown.

I could see the deep scar in the woods soil.
The crash must have frightened the skunk.

She can’t see, but by smell she will dig out;
Now her home ‘neath the roots is defunct.

Commiserating with trees is not easy.
I tried to be happy and bright.

But my eyes filled with tears as I parted,
For my old friend that fell in the night.

‘Twas a mighty high wind that had pushed it,
At a time when a tree least suspects.

It shattered; it cracked; toppled over,
Smashing all that it used to protect.

So with sadness I promised I’d visit;
I’d write a story to keep

About life in dead trees in the forest
In a place where great giants will sleep.