One day you look up
and all that’s left of leaves
is a twisted trunk, thick at the base,
an obelisk, split at the top
like an ungulate’s hoof, a shaft
riddled with holes, hopeful places
for birds to make their fastidious nests.
And if you look closer, you’ll see a tortoise,
head as big as a howitzer shell
and two legs, trying calmly
to swim out from the leathery bark
of which it’s made.
It wants to know, like an accuser
in a dream, what have you done
with your life, and raising its rough,
amphibious hands, holding them out,
implores you to pull its ancient
body from the tree.