Fremont Cottonwoods

Cottonwoods1 by Emily Strauss

Fremont Cottonwoods (Populus fremontii)

In a high wind their branches crack
together like the bones of a skeleton
marching by day near the river
deep within the red stone maze

the leaves shaking like nervous hands
fluttering at the window, sick with worry
that the men will get caught in the storm
with the cattle lowing and freezing

in the side canyons topped with white
cross-hatched sandstone, the remains
of a sandy desert hundreds of millions
of years past, the largest ever known.

The cottonwoods blow, the skeletons
click their dry fingers at the mule deer
coming to drink, ears alert, watchful
of pale ghosts when they bend down

and still the wind howls to the south
along the mesa tops, the red inner
canyons slowly catching the rising
sun, unmoved except for the trees.

Category: Poetry