Death and Taxus
Yews are old; in graveyards they tent
over the dead, their berries blood heavy
In our suburbs they crouch as battlements
in front of ranches and bungalows
Their botanical call is the drum beat
of perpetuity: Taxus baccata baccata
the beat for the oarsman to stroke over Styx,
the stone in the prow, his face like the pit
of yew berries.
Taxus, taxus, take from us our light,
the tilth of our soil, our fears,
our house fronts, our sorrow. Make it green.
Death and Taxus was first published in Pennsylvania English, 2003.
Poem, copyright © 2003 by Gabriel Welsch
Appearing on From the Fishouse with permission
Audio file, copyright © 2005, From the Fishouse