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

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