Aaron Bauer, “Standing on a Sidewalk”

Fall and trees expose their skeletons dancing
like in black and white cartoons

with rippling bones and xylophone ribs. Sidewalk
in both directions, a straight line extending

beyond sight; an arboreal labyrinth
swaying in the earth-exhale and below

the shadow-maze shifts, penciling in the words
‘start’ and ‘finish’; the periphrastic path

takes my pupils like a crab chasing waves
on a shoreline. In this puzzle the oak

displays her story: the torso-sized stub
left after the branch broke in last year’s blizzard,

crushing the windshield of a car, leaving a spider
web; forsaken nests speak of her

as much as the rings within. Corridors
on crumbling flagstone shift like the worm’s

way as he digs into earth. In the park
across the street, men with pneumatic jaws

trim back history; a branch falls, lands
perpendicular, snaps under its own

weight; only coarse shade remains.

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