What looks at first like rotten fruit, hung round the maple’s slender trunk,
we know’s a tortured cluster of malignancies where cells grow drunk
with larvae, mites or fungus, worms, with virus or bacteria,
and multiply as tumors, bulge of goiters, awful excess growths.
But when you look at all the gross disfigurements at closer range
you see the beauty of distortion, the sculpture of disease, the strange
and replicating work the tree is not supposed to yield, a flowery
production so grotesque it seems a kind of miracle in wood
that makes this sapling both unique and memorable by virtue of
its suffering swollen sores and scars,
the warts that are its finest art.