tulip tree

A thin spot in the clouds passing over the sun gives the tulip tree at the woods’ edge an aureole for its suddenly dramatic, upraised limbs.

A flat white sky. The ambiguous gestures of random leaves, waving or perhaps drowning in the thick air. A hummingbird is here and gone.

Cloudy and cool. Cricket trills and ticks are joined by chipmunk tocks. A tulip tree leaf sails in wide circles with its stem for a rudder.

Overcast but no rain yet, and a rumor of wind so faint only the tulip polar leaves pick it up. A syrphid fly hovers an inch from my glasses.

Despite the constant agitation of the tulip tree’s thin-stemmed leaves, its eponymous sex organs barely move—golden cups open to the clouds.

Just as the early goldenrod fades, the late begins to bloom. At the wood’s edge, the tulip poplar is having a conversation with itself.

I marvel at how tall my tulip trees have grown, nonchalantly waving their leaves. “It was I who planted you! I who saved you from the deer!”

The tulip poplar’s green and gold leaves look almost as they did at first emergence back in May. But their whispering is so much louder now.

The tall tulip poplar is in bloom, yellow dishes open to the flat-white sky as if waiting for a radio signal or a morsel of sun.

The leaves of the tall tulip tree at the wood’s edge are now as big as babies’ ears. A squirrel cries plaintively from its crown.

I look up from my laptop just as a Cooper’s hawk launches from the tulip poplar, flashing through the treetops toward its nest of sticks.

Traffic noise from over the hill is deafening—the icy snowpack has become a sounding board. In the tulip tree, four slow, amorous squirrels.

The big tulip tree at the woods’ edge is releasing its seeds, spinning blades backlit by the sun. The cedar by the door trembles with birds.