Nobody complains
      about the rendering
      of an elm limb.

      They like to study
      the outstretched arm, the
      bark, worn and past-elegant.

      Nobody complains
      the trunk is too tall,
      the robin’s nest has no eggs.

      That’s not the shade
      of a hundred and sixty
      year old living thing.

      No, they praise
      the leaves’ movement inherent
      in the painter’s brush swirls,

      the scampering of
      squirrels at the base and
      foreground, how clever!

      The shading of the grass
      where the ochre afternoon
      sun filters the limbs, magnificent!

      Try putting a human
      in the scene, just once.
      Doesn’t even have to be

      a grown man, even
      a child will do;
      then there’s no end

      of the complaints.
      Boys don’t wear galoshes
      in summer! Just look

      at his hair! Billy doesn’t
      comb it backwards like that;
      what are you getting at?

      Only boys fifty years ago
      had cowlicks, now they gel.
      Why is his mouth so large

      while his cheeks are puffed?
      Are you implying he’s chewing
      bubblegum or tobacco?

      That’s not a very good
      message to be sending,
      you know? But you don’t

      have any children, do you?
      (Tsk-tsk, if this
      is your only creation!)

      His arms are all wrong
      for his legs, they’re out
      of proportion! Okay,

      I have to give it to you—
      his eyes are just that blue,
      like the stream in the background.

      But about that—don’t you think
      it would be better to have him
      playing in the water, if

      he’s just going to stand there
      in front of the tree, doing nothing?
      That’s insulting!

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