Pruning Burning Bushes – in Relief: A Quarterly Christian Expression

Issue 2.4 of Relief: A Quarterly Christian Expression came today in the mail, and in it, my first published poem. Look at me, I’m a poet. Ah ah ah.

Pruning Burning Bushes

I am over-pruning burning bushes
that border my front porch on Morgan,
cutting back two-thirds of growth
to trigger recovery from the trunk up.
Horticulturalists wince as I saw
through oldest limbs and keep going –
the shrubs are old, nothing new is budding.

Someone buzzed them back before we bought
the house, topped and tipped instead of using
crown reduction. There are a dozen leaves left,
tiny offshoots triggered – bursts of green
from long dead, empty stems. My trimming

is traumatic. The branches bend, sustained
so long by suckers sprouted in haste. Here I am,
sighing, sweating, fists on hips, the pruners
lost in the grass. The landscape breathes.
There is no exchange, no return in trauma –
either slowly hollow, heartwood rotting outward,
or grow from green into a fiery blaze in autumn.

I pick the pruners off the earth, dust
my aching hands and look for where
the calluses will form.

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