A Tree Called Molly by Dave Seter

Did you hear me call out—Molly—in the forest?

Did any of the trees fall, hear, or feel me?

I only called out what I read on the trunk,

someone having tried to fuse two lives, theirs,

and the blue oak’s, together by sharing a name

incised with a knife, the scar blurry with time.

Maybe the one true Molly only wanted

to be remembered among her brothers and sisters—

coyote—river otter—these elder oaks—as one

family. Naming is something people like to do

to trees but trees have no need for names.

When dogs or deer mark trees, their naming

is fleeting to the seasons, their alphabet scent 

not twenty-six carveable letters. No matter 

what we think, this isn’t—our—territory,

marked off in latitude, longitude. The day will come 

when measurements succumb to an exploding sun.

Still, I suppose it’s convenient now to call 

the tree—Molly—rather than describe intricacies,

leaf pattern, roughness of bark. I shout out—Molly—

like a pagan lover, vocal cords lichened and mossy.

If you assume Molly’s a girl you’ve made a common

mistake rooted in social constructs of naming.

Life in the contemporaneous forest might surprise you.

Oak trees have male flowers on one part 

of their branches, female flowers on another.

So—Molly is both boy and girl—when the red penned 

say use proper personal pronouns—just saying—