There’s an oak snag I’ve passed almost every weekday—a dead tree looming over a landscape of patchy grass and untamed shrubs. It’s been a dramatic sentinel, nobility evident in its posture. When a Family Dollar store popped up to the east of it, casting its cinderblock shadow over the “for sale” sign edging the sidewalk of the vacant lot, I knew it was just a matter of time before the snag was cut down. I thought to capture the snag on “film” before that happened but, every morning, in my rush to get to where I was going, I passed the snag. “Tomorrow,” I whispered to myself.
Saturday morning, as I sat on my sofa with my cup of Earl Grey in hand, listening to Maria Callas and playing with the pup, I felt something stirring within me. No, it wasn’t indigestion. There were words piling up inside me, desperate to be released into the wild. I opened my laptop and let them pour out of me, flying from my fingers onto the white screen. It was a poem…about the snag. I hadn’t been thinking about it prior to this spontaneous combustion of poetry, but there it was: a tribute to the tree.
This morning, as I got on the road, I had one mission: take a photograph of the snag. It would be the perfect portrait to accompany the poem, I thought.
I was too late.
The snag’s barren limbs had been severed, most of them, at least. The lot had been plowed, churned dirt bleakly surrounding what remains of the tree.
I can’t help but wonder if this piece of poetry was a final message from the snag, its desperate cry to me as it was slowly being dismembered.
You can read the poem here.