{The Arboretum}

We had news yesterday — the arboretum
charges 50 shillings to enter. To walk
among the dusty trees and the old bushes,
you must pay the woman
at the gate 50 shillings.

On the edge of the road, between the
river and the sidewalk, a tin hut is
built for people with jikus, with vats of oil,
with pots of milk, tea leaves, sugar.
They sell their sustenance to passers.

Mary Oliver once said, “Loving the earth, seeing what has been done to it,
I grow sharp, I grow cold.”

I wonder how one must treat an Earth they love, and
how one must stay soft.

My father and I ran into the arboretum,
paying nothing this morning, it being too early
for the woman at the gate with her clipboard.
We ran behind and around small gatherings of
schoolboys, their uniforms green and tired, their eyes
already awake, eager for the quiet of the trees and
the darkness that still rests in the arboretum.

How must one be thankful for the woman at the gate,
payed who knows how much to feed her family?
How must one have grace on the schoolboys who do not have
50 shillings to spare on muffled bird calls and big trees?
How must I, wealthy as I am, run in the forest
for free?


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