Ollie Ollie Oxen Free
The short concrete road's irregular wrinkles, made more visible
by tar patches across its face, goes straight to the dead-end fence.
Fifty years of grumbling trucks, toting filled lugs and boxes to
and from the factories lining its distance, have taken the toll.
All nostalgia is cached in the soil beneath the cement driveways,
the foundations of buildings and walls piled with pallets and cartons.
Here with the dirt, lie the memories, of the roots of a eucalyptus,
with its grand trunk, shedding skins, and aromatic leaves.
What did they do to rid themselves of this titan which five children,
arms outstretched, hands tip-to-tip, could not fully embrace?
The three houses, from the corner to the vacant lot, wouldn't be
a problem for a bulldozer, a man, and one long day.
The sheds, arbors, small orchards would tumble in the flicker of sun
on the vertical metal scoop, when endless link tracks bit the ground
until all before them was smashed down: ship-lapped boards shredded
together with branches, tile and the nude painting on a bathroom wall.
But that tree, that colossus with its sleek and layered robes, catching kites,
housing birds, listening to the faraway chants of children at its base.
How many chain saws had to eat at its flesh before it was beheaded?
What dispatched the massive trunk, those tangled roots?
Nothing remains here of the weeds and children's' tunnels in the vacant
lots. There's no hint of a rural road under this concrete surround.
The medicinal smell of eucalyptus leaves is entombed, along with scents
of apricot blossoms, fresh turned earth, cooking jam, and sweaty children.