tulip tree

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.

Lichens are aglow after a night of rain, the tulip tree’s trunk painted the same pale green as its leaves. New warbler songs off in the fog.

Just-opened leaves on the big tulip poplar, as absurdly small as the unicycles ridden by circus bears. Wind rustles in the dry forest floor.

At the woods’ edge, the tulip poplar sprouts a scarlet thorn: pileated woodpecker. A gust of wind drops a dried leaf into my lap.

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.