You see my strength—
long sturdy trunk
rooting down, clasping rocks
to steady me, hold them.
A big stone’s alcove marks
its ovoid shape—
it tumbled down the roaring creek.
I stopped it with my leggy squeeze.

Then the creek dug down,
dropped below my reach,
left me dry for months, years, decades.
I teetered on collapse.

Then “they” showed up,
beetles pocked my legs, nibbled roots,
where it hurt.
Those un-mighty pesky things:
I could have sapped them in sticky blood
that oozed from any sore
except . . . .

I crashed. It was loud.
The creek heard it.
I released that stone,
my undergem,
hit my place on the sandy floor,
skin peeling in big platy crusts.

Blades of gravity flay me.