Magnolia Poems

By Andy Mitchell

Alone in the H’s

for Jim Harrison

By Andy Mitchell

I haven’t climbed a tree in quite a while.

That’s what I told the cable guy

after coming down from our magnolia, having

climbed it in order to help him

untangle a new wire running through it.

I surprised myself how adept I was,

how nimble. And yet I wasn’t really taken aback

by my feat. I don’t think of myself as middle-aged.

What truly surprised me was that

I didn’t want to come down from the tree

once I was up there in it. All day

I’d been anxious to have wifi again.

Then I went outside to do some yard work

for the first time this year.

Breaking a sweat also for the first time,

I lost my desire for indoor endeavors.

All the while our laureate of the outdoors

had been dead for two days and I hadn’t

even realized. Somewhere out in the far Southwest

an adventurer-sage had run out of steam.

Half-Borges, half-Hemingway, his idea of paradise

was not a library (as it was for Jorge) but a clear

stream running through the desert.

For me an aisle of books is

a stream in the desert, the library an oasis.

Tomorrow you will find me there, alone in the H’s

cupping my hands in the cool water.

The Magnolias

By Andy Mitchell

Walking home tonight

the magnolias are on parade,

for this the last day of March,

their color relieving

the otherwise bare branches

gray as the day.

Outside the First Presbyterian Church

three in a row stand proud

like sisters showing off

their Easter dresses.

Others stand out as well.

I wonder if the young woman

power walking notices them,

or the kid on his skateboard,

or the gray man stooped over a leash.

None of them seems to

but I probably don’t seem to either,

at least not until I pass a certain address

craning to see my childhood

climbing tree in the backyard

hidden by Mom’s house,

the one that used to be Dad’s house too.

They were married fifty-five years ago today.

Mom said it was a beautiful day.

Passing through the college and the park

I approach our new house, taking stock

of our own magnolia strewing petals in my path.

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