Backyard Birch, I had assumed you dead.
The blossoming weeks had come and passed you by
and you were embarrassingly barren against the sky,
frail branches, dry and of life bled
out, bleak-brown, your disappointing bud beds
sterile. How mocked the morning doves that would fly
through your wreck toward birdseed hanging nearby.
The neighbor’s sticky plum trees stared. Enough said—
until yesterday, at a glance, on a barren twig
I spotted one burst of green, one sprightly sprig
with ten leaves pushing through the sapwood clogs,
ten leaves springing sunward as if to set
the record straight that this Birch, against all odds,
breathes life, bears dogged life within her yet.
The picture above is the birch in my backyard. The little sprig of leaves broke forth recently in the middle of all the dead branches and inspired this sonnet. Last night I attended a dinner event put on by the Center for Bioethics and Culture Network, an organization that is fighting gallantly to preserve the dignity of being human against economic, philosophical, and technological forces that are ushering in the age of the commodification of the human body, the exploitation of human reproduction, and the threatening the inviolability of human life in its most vulnerable contexts. I dedicate this poem to their extraordinary work. For more on CBC, see their website: www.cbc-network.org.