A tree aims its huge cluster of trunks skyward
from white ground. It stands unscathed
in a meadow, the surrounding forest laid waste
all night. A woman comes out of the splintered trees,
tall boots cracking through crust, long black coat
scraping behind her as she strides through knee-high
snow into morning. Sun glints along the edges
of her bootprints. She carries a large case, approaches
the tree, sets the case down and steps back, careful
to stay in her footprints. She surveys the expanse
of trunks, many dwarfing her body, others as slender
as her legs and arms. She takes her time.
From the woods come echoes like whipcracks,
like the groans of sinking ships, now and then
a thundering crash that shakes the land beneath her.
Still, she examines this tree that’s untouched, watches
it shed remnant ice in sunlight. No other sounds—
just loud breaking, soft melting. She listens.
When she’s ready, she steps forward slowly, quietly,
opens the case and lifts out a great bow. She’s made it
herself: from wood, hair, shell, hide, gold, silk, bone.
She draws the bow across each trunk, waits as the tree
tunes itself. The larger the trunk, the lower the sound,
each a reverberation that carries across the clearing,
travels into the woods. Deeper than whalesong, higher
than eagle call, all the notes in between. Tree and woman
compose as they play, are played: rondeau for earth
and sky, rhapsody for a new day, requiem for the forest.