The way you care for a crepe myrtle
is to sever its arms at the elbows
in February just as the hellebores rouse
and leave it standing
naked and mute and helpless
in the vast, frigid absence
of any sign of life.
Like you, I am weary of the savagery
of spiritual metaphors,
much as I am weary
of the savagery of men.
To call it 'pruning' is a cruel joke,
that flourishes through dismemberment.
As a child, I hardly noticed
the barkless, armless sentinels
lining the parkway medians,
until they transfigured in late spring
into trees so heavy-laden
with leaf and bloom
that they wept flowers
in even a faint breeze.
The white ones were my favorite.
When I should have been helping
my grandmother load groceries in the car,
I would stand on the curb,
stretching to the nearest compliant branch
and shake the panicles loose,
until I was englobed
in a balmy June snowstorm
in the Kroger parking lot,
transported for a moment
from a world that scans the landscape of winter
and sees only death.