He who marveled at the tulip poplars, growing so abundant,
Admonished a friend who didn’t know
The tulip poplar in their own yard, the only tree
In their sea of grass, the tree yearly dropping orange, green, and yellow
Petals. Astonished, he said, “How can that be?
How can you not know the one tree in your yard?”
That tree that held many stories over their home.
Just on the other side of my neighbor’s fence,
In their yard,
Stands an old tree that towers over all the others.
I’ve stared at it swaying in the wind, unable to identify its grey,
Grooved bark, its leaves so far away, like they belong
To the clouds, not the ground.
Then one spring, a single yellow, green, and orange petal
Slipped through my maple’s foliage, landing at my feet.
And I began to see
Those petals everywhere, falling,
I researched the flower and discovered the neighbor’s tree
Nearly in my yard
Is a tulip poplar. Ashamed I had not known it sooner,
Remembering my friend’s admonishment, I told myself
It’s in the neighbor’s yard, not mine.
Fences mean nothing to me, rustled the tulip poplar
As I stood below her canopy.
And with a great sigh, she took a long draw
Of rain that had fallen here
She dropped a seedling at my feet
And smiled down at me, knowing she and her children
Will outlive me and that fence
For many more rings.
Poem by Narya Deckard
I am a poet and MFA student in Western North Carolina, studying creative writing at Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Thomas Wolfe Center for Narrative in Asheville, NC. Other than having two poems printed in my university’s literary magazine, “Cantos,” I have not yet had any poems published. I feel most at home with grass beneath my feet and a tree above my head.