A tree topples to the forest floor
to rot into resurrection.
Out of death it grows a new garden.
Out of death it regenerates forest.
Moss creeps onto the decedent log,
green carpets it, sponging up raindrops,
The rotting wood is food
for worms, for grubs;
worms and grubs food
Birds drop fertile seeds.
Ferns and Jack-in-the-pulpit
sprout in this fresh loamy womb.
Splinter by sodden splinter dead wood
builds nurseries for seedlings
of maple, oaks and pines.
Saplings shoot sunward from the moldering corpse;
youngster trees add yearly rings to their girth;
tentacle roots growing down to the ground.
Rich soil waxes, rotten wood wanes.
The corpse tree shrinks, fragmenting
to nothingness. Yet death sponsors life.
And us? What about us?
What will we grow after returning to dirt?
What will we add to nature’s eternity?
William Swarts is the author of Harmonies Unheard, Strickland Plains and Other Poems and Treehouse of the Mind. He won First Prize in Litchfield Review’s annual Poetry Contest. He received his B.A. in English Literature from Brown University, his J.D. from University of Pennsylvania and practiced law in New York City and Paris, France.