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                                                                        (Quercus garryana)

Old white oak, are you better-looking
in the winter? Your rounded crown
is tufted pale-green gray with lichen.
Deep within, your arms unfold
their brawn of moss, a dark chartreuse.

How could it be that one thick shoulder
now lies shattered in the meadow,
lopped at last by gravity? Simply a bit
of ground to make up, rumpled bed
for another acorn, soon to wake.

hoto by petr sidorov on Unsplash

Paul J. Willis

Paul Willis has published seven collections of poetry, the most recent of which is Somewhere to Follow (Slant, 2021). He has also recently published a YA Elizabethan time-travel novel, All in a Garden Green (Slant, 2020), and the essay collection To Build a Trail (WordFarm, 2018). He is a professor of English at Westmont College and a former poet laureate of Santa Barbara, California. His website is