©Poems of R.F.Mueller- Other Times, Other Thoughts
TREES OF NEW JERSEY
Along the curving rusty rails,
Among the weed-choked wrecks,
The blight of crumbling brick and broken glass,
They wait with darkened limbs
Against the sulfurous sky;
They wait and sink their old roots
Ever deeper down to find the pristine
Pre-industrial soil that still underlies
All that awful staring waste.
While all around them comrades languish
Turn to punk and die,
Within some sooty trunks
Sturdier cambium rings still thrive
In blind primeval hope, even
As the acid clouds move in.
Jersey City, Elizabeth, New Brunswick, Trenton,
All have these patient crowds.
Not even Newark's tenement -lined streets are bare.
There, where old plantation memories are not paved over even now,
Sullen youths still rebel against the plow
And break the young budding limbs
As if to cheat the rope already woven
Behind those rotting walls.
Behind the all night diner's neon din they wait.
Oak, pine and chinquapin.
Not for the diners' brief scurry to their cars,
Or for the engine's cough and snarl
Toward the tollway over there;
Not even for the children who come back
Each summer day to climb the lowest branches,
Or the old men who chop the underbrush and curse.
For what then do they wait?
Maybe it's for the color of the sky
When a hard rain has driven all the smog away
And the sun sets like a normal day.
Or perhaps it's for the silence that sometimes comes
On blizzard nights when the old wilderness drifts in again off Kittatiny or the Deserted Atlantic Shore.
Or perhaps they just wait
For New Jersey itself to go away.
This poem was based on a rudimentary knowledge of New Jersey's flora, from impressions gained on passing through despoiled parts of the State, and from a frequently leveled charge that developers were changing Virginia to a facsimile of it. I recognize that the Garden State has an abundance of beautiful and important natural gardens; its Pinelands and diverse and abundant wetlands that are critical to migrant birds and other wildlife, and, in general, are the pride of the Nation's East Coast.