The Praying Tree

Melinda Palacio

Ten years of driving the same highway, past the same tree, the
    picture is
at last complete. The eucalyptus tree and narrow birds above a
    blessed
steel sea with no thoughts of yesterday, today, or tomorrow.

Black cormorants on bare branches spread their wings as if in
    prayer.
A sunny day in Summerland and the tree, visible only from the
    highway,
hides its penitent perch from cars racing by too fast.

Four wheels swerve to avoid a sheer cliff, southbound on the 101.
The fat sun slides its yolk into the glass ocean. Slow down, see
an empty nest of woven round sticks in the praying tree.

Birds soak in rays without fear of melanoma or the nature
of forgiveness. Slick imperfections, wet wings
open and close in Morse code for goodbye.