Question of the Day

By Teddy Macker

The feet of squirrels
have worn the bark of this oak.
On the inner sides of branches
the bark’s cragginess is darker, almost smooth
where light neat feet
climb for acorns, a mate,
to escape a fox. I wouldn’t have
noticed this if my daughter hadn’t
stopped here to ask me a question,
to pitch her resplendent often inconvenient tent
of unrushed being. Dadda, she asks, how many days
fit inside a tree? I look up to the branches.
Silver nicks of light skate up and down
strands of web. A junco, a handful
of shadow, hops along a branch
towards the top of the crown.
I repeat, careful to keep my voice straight,
How many days fit inside a tree?
Yes, she responds, yes.
I’m blind for a spell, almost afraid,
but very close to something. I look at her face.
I look at Tomasa’s face, the face that of all the faces
moves me the most. How many days fit inside a tree?
I repeat again. That’s a very good question. Then I answer.
I answer with a final gentle certitude. One million.
One million? Yes, I say. One million exactly.

Teddy Macker is the author of the collection of poetry This World. He lives with his wife and daughters on a farm in Carpinteria, California, where he maintains an orchard. Also by this poet: "To the End"