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On the top of Mount Pisgah, on the western

slope of the Mayacamas, there’s a madrone

tree that’s half-burned from the fires, half-alive

from nature’s need to propagate. One side

of her is black ash, and at her root is what

looks like a cavity hollowed out by flame.

On the other side, silvery-green broadleaf

shoots ascend toward the winter light

and her bark is a cross between a bay

horse and a chestnut horse, red and velvety

like the animal’s neck she resembles. Staring

at the tree for a long time now, I am reminded

of the righteousness I had before the scorch

of time. I miss who I was. I miss who we all were,

before we were this: half-alive to the brightening sky,

half-dead already. I place my hand on the unscarred

bark that is cool and unsullied, and because I cannot

apologize to the tree, to my own self I say, I am sorry.

I am sorry I have been so reckless with your life.


Ada Limón

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translated from the Hebrew written by
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