El Arbol

Sweaty little-boy hands grip rusted metal
cable descending from some unseen space
some passage between bark branches
and leaves, his spirit sees the old one.
the giant tree whose trunk measures
more girth than both our outstretched
arms together.
Brown legs, knobby knees, push
against rubbly bark he strains to shimmy.
Busting the seams of his sandal, reaching
for the iron cable embedded, soldered
to the bark. 'Why, is it there' he asks,
Still clinging to the tree-- not delicately
like the Common Water Strider who holds
fast to the creek's tumble and garble.
But strenuously as if the tree's life depended on his
discovery 'Its a lightning rod,' uncle says,
To protect the tree. We all look up,
Fully up, chins pointing toward the sky.
'It's already been hit.'
We stare at the cable, its rust
the color of the tree but not really and
I think of the lines etched into my body
the temperature each one carries
and the number of times they deepen
in contestation of some charred memory.
My spine a cable twisted and gashed,
a trellis of expectation.