American Chestnut · Indigo Lake

Blight of the American Chestnut

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by Carrie George

with observations from the naturalist Donald Culross Peattie

The chestnut grows blighted and destined to die
on the bodies of giants that once feathered and bloomed
like a sea with white combers plowing across its surface.

Illness inhabits a legacy, inhabits a system
of root, trunk, and vein swirling black thunder through
the chestnut, grown blighted and destined to die.

Muted browns resurrect in lovely women’s locks,
in fine silk cuts pleated into dresses, curtains, tablecloths
made like seas with white combers plowing across the surface.

Resurrected in memory and laboratories where needles
shock cankers into surviving samples. We play god
on the chestnuts, growing blighted and destined to die,

or to try, at least, as generational loops curse roots back
into fatal sprouts with only distant dreams of parents flourished
like a sea with white combers plowing across its surface.

We treasured their wood in pianos, barn timbers, fences,
smoothed their tall torsos into human shapes and desires.
The blighted chestnut we sentenced to drown
its white combers still bobbing on the surface.

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