If a winter storm had ever toppled
the blue spruce that towered over
the Tandem nursing home,
you would not have asked how old
the tree was and by that mean
a good life had been long enough.
You would not have said the tree
would no longer suffer indignities
and use that to erase your frailty.
Instead, we would have marveled
together at the pale corona of roots,
like arms uplifted and exposed.
We would have breathed in
earth smells and the inner life of the tree,
the miracle of the woodcore.
We would’ve been as curious and maybe
as happy as squirrels. We who
had sworn off the small talk of recovery.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.