Poetry Daily: http://www.poems.com/

Locust Trees in Late May


Two of them, sixty feet high, with trunks as big around
as fifty-gallon barrels, lean at a corner of the house,
sprinkling their tiny green burr-like flowers
over the deck and, during windy thundershowers,
dropping their sprigs of leaves, delicate as ferns.
Just weeks ago they hummed with thousands of bees,
a sound like a huge refrigerator left in the sun.

When they were young they had fierce black
two-inch thorns, but they have since grown old
along with us and have tired of defending themselves.
Just now a nuthatch flits back and forth to the feeder,
hiding sunflower seeds in the bald, wrinkled bark,
and somehow a clump of grass has taken root
in a sap-damp crotch six feet above the ground.

Autumn is still a whole summer away, but it will come,
and with it great showers of copper locust leaves
like pennies, but oval-shaped, more like those pennies
a man at a carnival many years ago rolled through
a little machine on the tailgate of his truck
that pressed the Lord's prayer into them. Each of us
got only one, but these trees give us many.


Ted Kooser

The Kenyon Review

November / December 2016


To view this poem online, visit the Poetry Daily archive at http://www.poems.com/archive.php
View a large-print version of this poem