A birch can only flex with the wind
until an ice-storm forces its branches downward
hardening the bark,
tightening its core,
until it is as easy to snap as a toothpick.
As if it didn’t take years
to grow.

But birches make the same mistakes over
& over again.
Grow in the same gentle ways.
Bruise easily in winter,
but are so starkly loved
in the wilderness
nonetheless.

Painting by Mark Kowalk

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