A man up a tree with a pole touches
an iron hook at the point on the trunk
where the sky god struck the tree with lightning,
and the green bush of Balder’s soul descends
slowly to the oak leaves strewn below.
Ho! The trickster in the tree, the fellow
with the green hat and the twinkle: who is he?
The wind presses him black against the chill blaze
of a solstice dawn.
The tiny green spear,
Balder’s doom, was a fragment of himself.
These qualities he shares with Superman:
both mighty denizens of the air,
vulnerable only to a piece of home.
Look! Up in the tree, a nimble form
leaping tall limbs with a single bound!
An auroral silhouette at sun-pause!
And now the pole extends, the hook connects,
and Balder can go home.
The oak still stands.
The wind howls in the branches overhead,
almost obscuring Loki’s raucous laugh.
Breathe easy: now the new year can begin.
December 13, 1996
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