Chestnut, elm, maple

I know I am dreaming but I cannot wake up.
I shake myself, but it is not the earth body, it is the dream body
that shudders.
I know I am dreaming when I drive down Maple Street,
loving my gorgeous maples while I kill them with my exhaust,
but I cannot stop.

I know I am dreaming when I turn onto Chestnut Street
and there are no chestnut trees.
I know I am dreaming when I turn onto Elmwood
and the grand elms have long since died.

I remember hearing that they were dying
as a child, but didn’t know which tree was which,
which to mourn,
had been taught only maple and oak
by my city-born elders. Had no idea how permanent
the loss of a species would be. But we were awake

as we played along the streets, pretending they were rivers,
deep and wide and flowing as they should.
A few times a year, in late August, four inches of rain in a day
would flood the streets, and they would almost become rivers,
shallow and wide and flowing and we would thrill, the rain
warm enough to run in, the earth body and the dream body
of the rain one. The earth body and the dream body
of ourselves and the rain one. We were awake,
with rain down our spines; our earth bodies shuddering,
shaking the rain, both rain and spine shuddering, laughing.

The rain would wash the streets clean,
sweep litter and maple helicopter-seeds alike
down the storm drains
to the real rivers, litter and leaves and seeds
and floating gasoline rainbows
rushing toward the real rivers,
hidden underground.

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