Sycamores shed their skins like snakes,
not in translucent sleeves, but in scraps and flakes.
Buttonwood bark strews the street is how Thoreau
described the molt. Curled pieces rolled up like cinnamon,
and the tree, a white column fifty feet high in its new skin,
smooth as if rounded, planed and painted.
One way he knew how to become better acquainted
was with a tape. Thirteen and eight-twelfths feet around—
he noted—three-and-a-half feet from the ground—
a sycamore in Haverhill, close to the Merrimack’s flow.
After reading this, I asked my wife to help me measure
the tree south of the school. Twenty feet, six inches—four
feet from the ground. A tree to die for, a sycamore galore
set out, like Thoreau’s tree, more than a century before
by someone who knew that the future was theirs to restore.
Charles Weld’s poems have appeared in literary magazines such as Snakeskin, Southern Poetry Review, The Evansville Review, Worcester Review, CT Review, etc. Pudding House published a chapbook of his poems, Country I Would Settle In, in 2004. Kattywompus Press published another chapbook, Who Cooks For You? in 2012. His poems were included in FootHills Publishing’s anthology Birdsong in 2017. A mental health counselor, He’s worked primarily in a non-profit agency treating youth who face mental health challenges, and lives in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.