Usasa Amur Trees

Usasa Amur Trees" appears in the 2018 national poetry anthology Heartwood: For the Love of Trees, edited by Lesley Strutt, (League of Canadian Poets, 2018). Copyright remains with the author Di Brandt.


Had you not been planted 

in Mr. M's lilac green apple

tiger lilied garden


Had he not died in his bed

so close by you could have

touched him with your 

quivering leaf tips

but for the invisible glass

window between you


Had you not begun dying

yourselves soon after

sundered from his love

and the protection

his fragrant hedges

offered from the harsh

extreme prairie weather

we so fear and admire


Had I not chanced

upon the exquisite

little white house

in that fragrant yard

I would soon call my own


Had it not been late August

and the sun still hot

and ever so pleasant 

in the whispering shade

your green leaves made


Had I not found

the simple red brick

fire pit that fit so 

perfectly between your

burnished golden

coppery trunks


Had we not feasted

and sung songs

and recited poems

under your graceful

broad branches

around a bright fire

all through that

lingering fall


Had you not come

back so spectacularly

to bless us for another

dozen  years with

your Siberian



Had you not bloomed

again every spring

and brought forth

thousands of tiny

bitter black cherries

beloved of the


chickadees and crows


Had you not shown me

the astonishing reach

of your spirit roots

all the way back

to the Siberian taiga

of your magical birth

along the glittering

dark underground river

that must have given

the Black Dragon its name


Had you not taken me

to the Ceremony of Light

that the Old Wise Ones make

where the Tigers fly

and the Eagle Hunters cry

for the whole world's sake


I wouldn't have known

that the World Tree

is every tree and lives also

in me and that the great

turning Wheel of Fire

is its crown and we are

all singing and dancing

cosmic stars flickering

in its gyre up and down