“Black Walnut” by Linera Lucas

Black walnut seedlings travel undercover,
Sneak up through the soil with two rounded leaves,
then, when the squirrels aren’t looking,
shoot out the serrated second leaf set, and
claim the territory.

A sixty-foot tree in an herb barrel? (Shove over, parsley.)
Three-foot diameter trunk wedged between the fence palings? (Give it a try.)
In the lawn? (The mower is old, it might miss.)
In the crevices of the rock wall? (Sideways could work)
In the parking strip under the power line. (The city pruners might forget our street)

The arborist advises me to photograph the leafing each season,
measure the mature leaf span,
watch for die-back.
“This scar,” he taps the puckered trunk,
“has self-healed.” He scratches his head and puts his cap back on.



Linera Lucas holds an MFA from Queens University of Charlotte. Her work has appeared in Pipes and Timbrels and Bede’s Journal and is forthcoming in the anthology In the Yard.