Summer 1991 • Vol. XIII No. 3 Poetry |

Tree

I'd like to be a tree. My father clinkedhis fork down on his plate and stared at me."Boy, sometimes you say the dumbest things." You ought to know, I muttered, and got backhanded out of my chair. Nowdays, when I chop wood and my hands gum with resin and bark flakes, I hunker at the tap and wash them human. But in math class, I'd daydream I had to choose: not hickory or cedar, not an oak—post, red, live, pin, or water oak. Just pine. If not long-leaf, I'd settle for loblolly. My skin would thicken with harsh bark, my limbssprout twigs, my twigs sprout elegant green needles. Too soon, Miss Gorrie'd call on me. "Why did you do step four that way?" Who me? Step four? "Yes, Andrew, you. Step four." Beats me. It looked good at the time, I guess—and got invitedto come back after school and guess again. And that's when I decided it: scrub pine. 

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Andrew Hudgins teaches at Ohio State University. His most recent book is American Rendering: New and Selected Poems. In June, Simon and Schuster will publish The Joker: A Memoir and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will publish A Clown at Midnight.

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