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Old Redbud

By Darrell Petska

PROMPT — The way I see it ...

Old Redbud refuses to die. Its bark peels, insects bore at its core, sap-starved branches snap in the wind. Ten years ago, my arborist gave Redbud a year. Each spring since, its persistent crimson nubs emerge from the torpor of winter and bloom into broad, dark-green eyes asking, “What of you, old man?” So what if my stick-like fingers creak with arthritis, my limbs splay and sag from time’s accretion, and my trunk trends horizontal on the fairest of days. Redbud shall have no satisfaction from me, though I congratulate myself for allowing death its leisure: my competitive juices have been stirred. I’ve laid off liquor, limber up with yoga, even eat kale, for god sake. For 50 years, Redbud has done as always, glamping comfortably in my groomed back yard. (I can’t help reminding Redbud that I’m its raison d’etre.) Who shall win this contest of wills? To each winter wind rising, Redbud retreats within. To that icy blast of time approaching, I stand at the prow of my life, asserting “So be it!” But until our endings, we need each other. Once, I thought I’d planted a redbud tree. That green stick I staked to the earth has all but become me.


Darrell Petska is a retired university engineering editor and a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee. His poetry appears in Verse-Virtual, 3rd Wednesday Magazine, Nixes-Mate Review, Amethyst Review, and widely elsewhere ( A father of five and grandfather of seven, he lives near Madison, Wisconsin, with his wife of more than 50 years.


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