The Tavern Trees

Fairfield, Tennessee

Having forced the stiff U.S. Mail flag up
and left the card crackling among cricket nymphs,
the wheel ruts’ little rocks nibbling at my soles,
the cattle grate a memory, a lock installed
to forbid locals from riding donuts on the lawn
or chucking empties in the boondocks,
from which fireflies still drowse into the grasp
like spirits, Eliza says, like will-o’-the-wisp
all at once they sweep up from the grass:
hackberry, coffee, sweet gum, ash, and beech,
centuries of speechlessness pitched to a high,
unfiltered exactitude my praise stabs at
even as they fall back to papery, aromatic stars
and elephant ears fruited savagely as maces.