Like a tree, he interprets light.
Papa Bois, old woodsman, come see
how this golden son paints your domain—
sycamore’s plainsong, pine’s keen sigh,
aspen’s conspiring laughter—be
a witness to his legerdemain.

                                                When branches thrash outside your window
                                                you sometimes believe you’re the storm
                                                that moves them, displaced hurricane.
                                                You tell no one. That’s nothing new.
                                                The South taught you early to conform,
                                                to wear a mask that’s become urbane.

                        From star to star the mental optics rove.
                        If only your hard labor conjured love.

Copyright © 2023 by Arlene Keizer. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 7, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.