tulip tree

The tulip tree in the yard has reached that stage where it could be sculpture, each remaining yellow leaf placed just so, jeered at by jays.

The tulip poplar sapling in the yard glows in the sunlight, a golden column. A honeybee buzzes around the empty light socket above my head.

The yellow is moving up from the goldenrod to the birches, tulip trees and elms. A red-bellied woodpecker’s shrill calls end in a trill.

The cicada chorus ebbs and swells. I notice the big tulip tree has shed all its drought-yellowed leaves from a month ago and is green again.

A yellow tulip tree leaf lies face-down on the porch floor. Nearby, an assassin bug crouches like a martial artist when I move my foot.

The drought forces plants into triage: the big tulip tree is turning yellow from the inside out; perennials are dying from the bottom up.

The leaves on the sapling tulip tree are already big enough to blow backwards. A tanager’s plucked-string call. It begins to sleet.