The hackberry chars, but will not burn.
It turns its back, defiant to the fire.
It won’t be lost to ember and to ash,
it lasts beyond the pyre.
It will be itself, and nothing less –
if greyed and shriveled from its form.
It says that living wood is best
and will not be reborn.
The birch erupts to instant flame
and fumes – it burns a golden bright
and is consumed. It flings itself
in flakes against the night
and breathes full to its core. The pain
of crumbling is barely more
than life, and for
all its ash and ember, it is nothing less