Editor's note: We are sharing this poem, written by an anonymous volunteer, about searching for white ash during a trip to Mount Monadnock Reservation with our forestry team. We hope you enjoy it.
White Ash Lament
We bushwack into the waiting forest.
Forming a line five abreast,
A search party for White Ash.
We are in pursuit
Of healthy females in the canopy.
Arrow-like seeds on the ground
Call us to attention.
Spinning beneath towering trunks,
We look for portals to their crowns.
Up, up above the lesser trees,
Ash proclaim dominion.
Why do males outnumber females 7:1?
We contemplate the secrets of ash,
Gazing through our binoculars,
Peering into realms of dioecious exchange.
We lie on the ground
To save our necks,
Steady our hands,
And commune with the majesty.
The trees are oblivious,
Flinging their boughs to the sky
Festooned with tinges of autumn.
Is this one a female?
There, caught in the sunlight,
Glittering like crystals,
Seeds have already begun flying.
Your roots, your trunk, your branches
Grew as bulwarks for a century of seeds,
Alighting in their coveted spots
In the community of Monadnock.
But global trade and human hubris
Now, what can we offer?
Inoculation for a small refugia
Of the Monadnock genepool,
Precious seeds full of hope?
A regeneration harvest
To jumpstart a new generation?
A parasite for the borer
That won’t out-bore us?
Will this be your last season of glory?
Will this be the last autumn you
Scatter your gems across the forest?
I lay transfixed by dancing branches
Wanting to remain forever
In dappled sunshine
Beneath the living matriarchs.
Beseeching them to survive.