Hidden in a tree’s annual deepening,
rings only begin to exist after the faller’s saw, in sweet fury,
whines through a long afternoon.
The stones rattle an open secret in creek wash—
it’s the end of wishes.
In my own vulnerable youth so much was lost to a disguise—
how to say meant something more
than how to remember.
I know I thought I knew what it meant
to be hidden and monumental
and go unnoticed in the actual sunlight
yet I let nothing torture future me
who now pores over the pitch-sticky scent
off two-hundred years of newly born rings on a stump
looking for a day when the truth cut me clean through.
Michael Daley is a retired teacher who lives near Deception Pass in Washington. He’s the author of several poetry collections: The Straits, To Curve, Moonlight in the Redemptive Forest, Of a Feather, and several chapbooks and books of translation. True Heresies will be published by Cervena Barva Press in 2020 and Born With, which includes this poem, will be published by Dos Madres Press in June 2020.
Header photo by Krasula, courtesy Shutterstock. Photo of Michael Daley by Kathy Prunty.