A Single Living Thing

For Reva Sharon

A single living thing took root
in darkness
under a ledge of granite

on a scarp of glacial mountain
hidden from the light
of clouds

It grew unnoticed for decades
then centuries
until it raised a crown of branches

toward the stars
until its thick roots cleaved
to a stone embankment

and moon-sheathed boulders
were enmeshed
in what it was

Nothing but life clung to it
for a thousand years
and then, in a single night,

it fell
The shockwave shuttered
the moon

And then it was rotted timber
and loamy tunnels
for termites

a feeding ground for finches
Lichen leeched to it
and fungi extruded

their ears
Year after year, it simmered
in the sun of summer

fall breezes cooled it
winter rain iced down—
spangling each moldering twig—

and spring was the music
of its dwindling toward

Until, in the humus and duff
that was left of it, a single living thing
took root


© Charles Fishman