The Stronghold

We had a fine place to come —
Into the keep of the old oak,
The frill of leaves to challenge through,
The tower room in the old trunk,
The knotholes, loops, and battlements,
And the chinks wedged open with sunlight,
The fine soft shavings of decay
To putter in, run through our toes.
We were the breathing of the wood.
Its tender core, the faces, watchers, guardians,
Bare and bony-cold in winter,
Warm and odorous in summer
And in the autumn rustling in our leaves.
That is all gone now; by haunting
I learn that oak-tree strongholds are out of fashion
And I grow too big to squeeze inside;
The shadow of my head cuts off the light
And I peer into unrelieved and cramping gloom.
The sun breaks in hiding darting shadows outside
And smooth children’s faces form among
the rough tree barks.