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Tree I Thought Was Really Dead Janet
The house we bought was old,
old enough to be our grandchild
playing on a creaking swing.
After winter wandered off,
this garden coming back to life
became a giant mystery.
The two of us had four brown thumbs,
but bushes came up everywhere.
Even experts at the Grange
couldn’t tell us what were weeds.
I stared at this Catalpa tree,
without a clue about its name or history.
Long dark pods were hanging
from its every branch.
I told my husband, “This thing’s dead;
we need to cut it to the ground,
give it some sad funeral,
dig a hole inside the stump,
plant some bright petunias there.”
Our neighbor overheard my words,
climbed the very leaning fence.
“Oh my God, do NOT do that—
those pods will drop and you’ll have
flowers bigger than four double fists.”
I waited, watched, until my eyes
grew foggy from the staring rites.
Two months passed, then suddenly
a hundred silky white bouquets—
vanilla ice cream for the shade
their blossoms chose—
suitable for waltzing brides.
So stunning and so beautiful
my breath withdrew—
just one of them a centerpiece
we had to move for room to eat.
Those pods were caterpillar skins
meant to brew a butterfly.
The Tree I Thought Was Really Dead
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