Homage to Frederick Buechner
The thorn was bronze and wonderful to see,
Though no one’s safe around such scimitars
That escalade against the very sky.
Yet scimitar by scimitar it rose,
And being made so barbed and barbarous,
Perhaps it meant no harm but harmed by chance.
Woodcutters could have axed and hacked the tree
To toss a greenwood crackle on a fire,
But no man wished to tangle with its thorns.
The silhouette was oddly beautiful—
Those smiling crescent shapes of scimitars
That clipped the air until sky seemed collage.
Perhaps because it speared so close to sun,
At last the iron budded, and buds broke
And shattered into flowers as bright as blood,
A red that dripped to earth as petal-fall:
At every joint new buds began to sprout
And soon their blossoms jostled in the breeze.
The pigment seemed a miracle to us;
Think of the lamp-glow of begonia blooms,
So otherworldly after winter’s dark.
No one expected yield, yet knots appeared
And, answering to sunlight, blushed and swelled
Like wildwood apples, scabbed and scoured with signs.
The fruit surprised us with its rose-straked flesh,
Ethereal or earthy fragrances,
And hard-won savor, strange and bittersweet.