salute to a city tree

by Margaret Tsuda

Image: Akintola Hanif via HYCIDE
Image: Akintola Hanif via HYCIDE

Your roots push and
hump under the cement
that men have
lain upon you as if
you were a
prisoner to be
                even water.

The exhaust gas of
many motors has
stripped and blackened
a half of your branches.

The bright tender
green of your buds
and leaves
is grayed by the
smokeshade of
the city.

But passersby
can see that
you believe
“I am that which lives.
I will grow.”

For this
we humbly
                salute you!

In an Arbor Day booklet prepared for Newark school students in 1916, Shade Tree Commission secretary Carl Bannwart wrote: “The more you come to know of trees, the more you’ll come to love them. And whatsoever you truly love, you take care of without urging.”

The Christian Science Monitor of November 14, 1970, published this poem by longtime resident Margaret Tsuda. It appeared in her collection Cry love aloud in 1972.

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