TREE OF LIFE By Beth Haist

My son Nathan Maceo
Is already growing like a redwood
Layering on cambrium
Faster than any sapling-

You see, he grew among the
Wildfires of Suicide Kings
And Broken Heart Queens-

He is the Jack of Diamonds
Cracked open by the heat-

Tall and straight & Black–
6 foot, 6 inches with his own superpower,
Impervious to the fungal rot
Of prejudice & hate.

He layered on wood quickly there-
In Flint-town in-the-day~
Seed combs burst in the heat-
Without water
And usual filters.

Kidz have no choice.
But to push thru the concrete-

His mother, a willow with long yellow dreds-
Her own heartwood
Burnt in repeated lightning strikes-

Of rape, and hate- gaslighted
Into a million pieces
Like Redwoods chainsawed-
Just scrapwood, now
A body that cannot be sold anymore
or fashioned into a showcase table–
Her yellow theta waves-
Her flexibility,
Her vulnerability
Add to her heartwood–
Following her son’s Sequoian ways
With 2 billion leaves
OF possibility
With each breath,
Spiked with oxygen-

By the talking river,
By bending grasses
By the unmarked Beech
And soft pine-
Cumulous clouds are outrageous.

But mainly, where she can see her son,
Grow unemcumbered
In the right light
With the right
He is a young Black man,
Now warrior/businessman
Working his own magic,
In the covid grey
Of Today.