Tulip Poplars

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

     And there






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.