Richard Fein


       Listen, under the shrill calls
       of bright feathered tropic birds
       is the faintest gasp.

Not exactly a parasite,
for it takes nothing from its host
but life.
No penetration of filaments,
no sucking dry of sap,
this sapling seeks only support,
a framework for its growth.
Floppy tendrils cascade from upper branches
bedecking the doomed tree with Medusa's hair
that spiral around the trunk.

Hardness is sought by this flimsy vine,
a firm ground for this freshly sprouted epiphyte,
as its sapling twigs hug the host tight, tighter still
till bark cracks and green wood browns.
The strangler sprouts fig leaves
to cover its floral governess
as her leaves and bark peel away
and the naked wood rots to humus.
Now free of the trellis, this new strangler
finally supports its weight with its own rigid trunk
and casts a shadow of twisted branches
over the dank and low brush.

Location: Brooklyn, New York
Publications: Stirring V1:E2, V3:E3

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