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On the Weeping Beech Bark a Jotted Note

Notation’s just part of the story,
I know

but it matters
if you carved the heart/arrow/name before
the first kiss or soon after

if you kissed her or she kissed you

either way
a hasty abbreviation—

the leaf-carpet crackled, footsteps
coming this way

Later, erasure—

crossed out in a flash, love
scraped away fast

And you, hiding behind afterthought’s
unembarrassed grin

you tried to annotate time

My fingertips
trace knots and grain for old
etched names

How many hours I watched 8mm film
jitter on the screen,
pored among the strangers
for a face

Just part of the story
notched on the weeping beech
like a child’s height on a doorframe

part of
yet a complete notation

A jotted note, a declaration:
The right to declare

The right to carve bias into permanence,
to exact bias from bark’s
hefty limb

The right to arrive at the other side
and not sing or play flute

The right to initial
on an aged elephant’s Samsonite hide
a name—mine

before the relic of me
disappears, before you X-out
you and me
before you rub out me

Now, the timing:

stop-gap, the need to notate
temporary as water, meat, heat

stop-gap, the need to state
I’m here

An old beech clothed in inconspicuous
yellow-green flowers
mutes its botanical laughter

but don’t miss
she is this moment my first love
exposed to yet another
withering winter
Don’t miss mark our kiss

and Ida, three letters
chiseled so deep the beech bled sap

On pachyderm trunk and feet, too,
inane déjà vu

in print, script, scrawl—

We were




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