First, the maple trees refuse to cooperate.
They withhold seed keys and sap,
a protest action against sour air,
bitter rain. The oldest have emphysema,
their clogged lungs collapse
against a push of wind. The newly planted
suffer the ache of growth, a stretching of limits.
Don’t you think they wonder what’s the point?
Must everything have a purpose? Yet it does;
an ecosystem draws meaning from decay.
But when rain eats through the leafy crown
of each tree and maple syrup is no longer
sweet, what strength it takes to offer tender
shoots against the bitter acid of time,
without thought of future consequence.
Even an oak is not that strong.
—Rhonda Douglas, Some Days I Think I Know Things: The Cassandra Poems