Tree of Heaven

Naomi Long Madgett

I will live.

The ax’s angry edge against my trunk

cannot deny me. Though I thunder down

to lie prostrate among exalted grasses

that do not mourn me, I will rise.

I will grow:

Persistent roots deep-burrowed in the earth

avenge my fall. Tentacles will shoot out swiftly

in all directions, stubborn leaves explode their force

into the sun. I will thrive.

Curse of the orchard, blemish of the land’s fair


I have grown strong for strength denied, for struggle

in hostile woods. I keep alive by being troublesome,

indestructible, stinkweed of truth.