To a Redbud in Bighill, Kentucky

Six decades of distracted searching — that rush
to snag the exclusive, meet the deadline,
grab the bargain, boost the credit — & finally now
I notice you.  Look, I’ve moved

to the mountain & I’m doing crazy
things —  talking back
to whip-poor-wills, transcribing 
for the cicada. Right now,  I’m under

your heart shaped leaves perched
like a monk, expectant & eager. O tree
of the edges, tree of the understory,
to you I yield.  Never once before 

have I noticed your whoosh & tingle,
your twisted trunk & I wasn’t expecting your
toughness. I try to break a slender
branch & can’t. I sit

beside you on the slope until
sunset & as your red
brown twigs stretch
like capillaries into the body

of the sky I surrender
even more. Forgive me
I’ve been lost in an American
daze & thank you

for waiting for me.  Now, tree
of the tribes, I am
your student. I imagine your ancient
memories whistling forth

in song. A Shawnee mother boils
your tough bark to soothe the whooping
cough of her newborn. She drives
winter out with your boughs, uses every

crackly seed. Take the scraps
of me, the tree sings, thread
my limber branches into baskets
with star patterns & handles.