That the tree that owns itself
is not itself might disappoint you
like it disappointed me.
Its predecessor toppled, sorry to say,
roots rotting, and then Junior Ladies
regrew it with an acorn and care.
Emily Dickinson is not so great,
my father tells me. Cecily,
take vitamins, and sleep enough. Yes,
Emily Dickinson is no John Donne,
John Donne is no William Shakespeare,
and who knows really who he was?
The Colonel who truly bore a great love
for the white oak had a great desire
that the oak be self-possessed,
and thus he willed it. One afternoon,
optimistically, Emily and a cousin
no one much remembers decided
to be distinguished. I lived by that tree.
Neither of us was very important,
but it was the more distinguished,
the road narrowing to a single lane
to give it reach. All the vehicles
slowed down, everyone that passed
passed with hesitation.