tulip tree

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.

All the tulip trees I’ve planted over the years are shimmering towers of pale green. A rabbit’s ears twitch in a patch of wild mustard.