A Word for Box Elder

Betty Bridgman (1916 - 1999)

From The Fringed Gentian™, Winter 1998, Vol. 49, #3.


Strange you should not have heard of my tree, box elder.
Weed of the prairie, worthless, and worse it’s called.
Seedling one summer, next summer way over your shoulder.
Whenever I see one, I’m up in it, ten years old.

Pioneers planted it, needing shade in a hurry.
Brown furrowed bark, profusion of three-leaf twigs,
Blanking the farmhouse for wind to lash with fury,
Shelter for squirrel chipmunk, flicker eggs.

Soon they complained of trees that outnumbered people.
Autumns, their seed like propellers went widely blown,
Profligate, common, assertive, poor cousin to maple --
They were expendable after the elms had grown,

Still in my childhood home we were rich in these.
Always I’ll speak a word for box elder trees