How I Became a Tree Hugger – Jim Zola

I wish my life were so exact

that the trees that line this street

would leaf twice a day, turn silver

palms to a darkening sky.

In my old neighborhood,

trees grew stagnant, or, split

by lightning, indecisive.

As punishment, men came

and painted white X’s on their bark.

Once my son’s breathing grew

shallow, belabored. He sighed

as if beyond his years.

The doctors hemmed and hawed

and put him in a machine.

He came out different, more sullen.

In his eyes I saw white X’s.

Then I knew it was my job

to stop the blade, the cutting.



Jim Zola

Jim Zola has worked in a warehouse, as a security guard, in a bookstore, as a teacher for Deaf children, as a toy designer for Fisher Price, and currently as a children’s librarian. Published in many journals through the years, his publications include a chapbook — The One Hundred Bones of Weather (Blue Pitcher Press) — and a full length poetry collection — What Glorious Possibilities (Aldrich Press). He currently lives in Greensboro, NC

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