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THE SLIDE

From the top of the slide
the playground was mine
except that Johnny

at the bottom,
laughed at me, jeering,
"Come on, scaredy!"

I let go
sliding fast
to knock him down.

The worst happened
slam whammy!
into his arms.

The kiss, brand new,
lasted
awhile.

I was wearing
my blue and white
polka dot
dress.

—Doris Baker

 
   
 

REQUIEM FOR A TREE

Outside my window
the old tree leans forward.
Branches black with rain
cascade from descending curves
into a thousand dripping twigs
and delicate finials,
a Chinese painting
dividing my view
into tiny quiver poems.
Green haze on its top branches
promises the tree is alive
and folded leaves fall,
humble petitions for another
just one more spring.

A squirrel lies on its belly
eyes closed
legs a-dangle below the branch,
its tail ballast
for the stretched out body
drowsy safe
for a lazy afternoon nap
above the ground.

And a busy sparrow
no bigger than a chirp
tries out its landing gear,
weight too small to swing
on even the weakest stem.

The tree cutters have come
and the Chinese tree is gone.
Only one twig is left
with eight leaves curled
pale brown-green
and two unresolved buds
leaning toward me
in a cup of water.

—Doris Baker