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A young sycamore leans out
over the young river’s bank.
In the smooth and slim grey trunk,
some years back, a heart was cut.

Its waist has thickened since then
and the letters lost their edge.
It’s impossible to judge
if R or B loved M or N.

Now new leaves are working free
and the woods shake off their sleep,
the shot-through heart they scored deep
widened each spring with the tree.

Whether they do as they did
when they gave the bark this knot,
and the day still held its heat
while days and the river slid,

and whether Miss A or H
became Mrs O or D,
or another name, or three,
or twelve were later cherished,

we only hopingly guess,
where water’s kind word is said,
on, always, over its bed,
its gentle, unending yes.

John Gibbens



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