the apple tree

the apple tree is now
only a shattered trunk
rotting away by the roadside
and the ants bore in, and the
black beetles congregate in secret
within its softening, shattering wood
as the parasitic vines slowly
slip their fingers underneath
its skin and twine themselves tighter
it is the last of the last of its kind

i remember when we planted
those three long ago when i
was a wee girl dwarfed by the sunflowers
and my father explained to me
the mysterious rudiments of root grafting
how slowly they did grow, the tiny trees
and when finally the buds bore
and the branches were laden with apples
the squirrels came and stripped them bare
leaving once-bitten green fruit
scattered on the ground to rot

now i have seen the life and death
of more things under the sun
than three wayward apple trees
and i grow tired of this lingering decay
ants scurry to rescue their young
as metal teeth chew through rotted wood
and the uncovered beetles break
their conclave with bumbling surprise
the dust flies, my heart races
the sweat streams down my forehead
until the last laborious cut breaks through
and the stump is but a rough
ragged platform from which a new
slender sapling is growing