Hayan Charara
Hayan Charara
The Trees


Past the smokestacks looming on the river and the rivers

of restless rush hour traffic, I drove north


to where the roads were unmapped and the trees

did not line up in rows one after the other.


I went to get away and to forget, but as it turned out

I broke a sweat splitting and stacking logs


behind the cabin, and like flickering street lamps

the upturned leaves droned and what is the sound


of cars and trucks churning uninterrupted down

an interstate if not that of a stream in the woods?


For hours on end I watched ants in their lines

of work and stared at grass twitch.


Bit by bit, I grew tired of the world as it was there

doing everything and nothing all at once


and so decided on a drive around the lake

but backing up, distracted, the radio


Interrupting the clamor of cicadas

with rumors of a truce


and the murders preceding it,

I whacked the rear bumper into a sapling,


nearly crushing it. I stepped around the tree,

only knee-high, and ran my thumb along its limbs,


carefully, as if the slightest touch

would cause it to fall apart.


“What misery to be afraid of death.

What wretchedness, to believe only in what can be proven.”


I looked up and the trees spoke. Look here, they said.

We will outlast you all.We belong here more than you.