To Our Hackberry-
You have rough bark and sandpaper leaves
Smooth sweet berries
A stately trunk and a huge shade giving crown
What a magnificent species you are
Oh Sweet Sugarberry
Host to Hackberry butterfly larva
You provide a strong safe route for
Squirrels from roof to yard
A place for the anole lizard to “show his money”
And the grasshopper to rest
You plant yourself and
Thrive, next to most any other plant or structure…
You do not discriminate
But love the one you are with
Prolific, you are a survivor
I admire your tenacity
Hackberry Growing Up Through Chili Pequin Bush
Apologizing to Our Hackberry
I apologize for wanting to chop you down. In the 18 years we have lived in this house I can never keep up with all the yard work I feel a need to do. Weeding and pruning. Never ending. I have pruned you sneaky hackberries over and over again. You grow so fast, disguised among the other, wanted plants. I didn’t plant you and try to keep you all at bay. But, you, the one by the back porch: I let you grow at the request of my husband about 5 years ago. Now you are almost 30 feet tall and your crown is almost 20 feet, providing good shade for our back porch. You are massive.
I apologize for cutting down your parents and aunts and uncles and siblings and kids.
Lately, my husband and I have regular conversations about whether or not to chop you down.
We haven’t decided yet. I apologize to you for even bringing this up. My personifying you and my guilt about the chopping thoughts may yet keep you alive. ___________________________________________________________________________________
Note: Versions of both the Ode and the Apology were written 4 years ago. After one Spring of our porch and patio furniture being drenched in sticky tree juice, we had finally had enough. We chopped. I couldn’t bear to part with all of the tree. This is what is left in 2019: