The oak
provides shade to others
while standing alone

The aspen
births the forest,
devoted but unseen

Every insult and injury
lodges heavy in their fibers
Yet they reach toward heaven
striving while others are thriving
and they silently yearn for love

Here come the axes
wielded by familiar hands
Cutting them down and
chopping them to pieces
for their final contribution
to warm others
then crumble to ash

Those same hands lay them, side by side, in a fireplace.
When the match comes they erupt in flames
Entangled and writhing
An inferno of stored misery
until they break apart, collapse inward,
cease being oak and aspen –
an ashen heap.

Yet within them glows an ember,
fanned by a heavenly breeze,
until they become pure radiance
Warm and golden and pulsing
Their hearts, beating together

– end –

Lee McCormack


Two rivers are born
high in the mountains
Fed by rain, snowmelt and springs
watered by the sun-warmed sea

Each begins as a trickle
and builds to a stream.
Every tributary roiling it
Every riffle shaking it
Every boulder smashing it

Each tribulation adds to its power
The steeper the drops
The narrower the slots
The mightier each river grows

Each on its own path,
being pulled, unaware,
toward the other
Until their canyons merge
And they meet
And mix and build
with each other
into each other
and create an even greater flow
made of them both

Broader and deeper
and even more powerful,
they carve through the mountains of their birth
across the plains of their rebirth

They meander together
Nourishing each other
Nourishing the landscape
Savoring their journey
back to the sea

– end –

(Feb. 7 2022 additional stanza because Life)

Their course reaches a split
and they go separate ways
Grateful for their journey
each containing the other
They flow onward, forever enriched

Lee McCormack