Whatever possesses birches to undress
in the dead of winter, solitary and come-hither,
their papery spice-colored layers wavering
in the wet, weighty breeze?

The peeling layers go on revealing
what's underneath until it seems
there are more layers than there is tree.

A tree half-peeled is no less a tree,
any underbark revealed is nearly healed.

Copyright Jean Monahan

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