Verses 1-3 (c) 2000
by Elizabeth Southwood,
Verse 4 (c) 2000
by her son Blake
A eucalyptus branch scared the
bejesus out of me on a sweaty summer day,
when it landed next to where I stood with a rush of
wind and its leaves rustling on dark soft earth.
This old thick tree has wind-peeled bark --
stiff curling strips that crunch underfoot.
Its lofty top sways fragrant
It hosts myriad hummingbirds,
an iridescent swirl of dazzling blues and greens.
They whiz around, up and down,
tasting tangerine geraniums and worrying my eyes
with their needle-sharp beaks and whirring thrums.
My son, topping the tree
among sighing leaves,
twice heard a living creature utter
“Unh-UNH-unh” after he drew a saw
through branches soft as butter.
He scrambled to the ground, a curious
look on his face.
His legs started itching
in three days.
The tree’s teeth
turned out to be at its base.
The tree’s teeth have a name.
It is POISON OAK.
My son scratched as he shouted,
“I’ll be ready for you next time!”