Sudden Oak Death

Chris Costello

Sometimes even trees lose the feeling
in their fingers. Introduced in nursery
stock, the disease begins innocent as a crack
in the trunk of the victim tar-black sap churns
from the canker on the skin of the plant the sickness
takes root inside the tree inch-worms its way onto the leaves
browning them like old photographs the spores devour
the bright and the new floating fluorescent cancer
rainwater their most loyal carrier turns the forest
to collateral nothing with a history will survive
new saplings spring up on old soil all they want
is space is home the only thing left to care about?
There is no cure only control isolation early detection
is the key when the first crack sounds in the wood
the disease has an impossible appetite all the trees
are stripped bare and bleeding too frail to remember
daylight but even that isn’t enough to slake the thirst of the virus
it wants to swallow everything we built together doesn’t matter
that we have already left most of it behind.