The Mighty King White Pine
(for Norman)

The Maine woods sleep in winter
In quilts of ice and white
That frost the bones of birch and beech
In copses hid from rays that reach
The latitudes of light
But there stands one sole sentry
In that snow-shrouded shrine
That thrives where lesser timbers fail
To brace for blizzard, storm or gale:
The mighty king white pine

And I knew one born under
Those soaring canopies,
Raised in a cabin cut from wood
Planed from the planks that first had stood
As trunks of those tall trees
And somehow as he grew strong
Within those boards' embrace,
The heart in rings where years attest
Began to beat within his chest
And he became that place

The forest lived within him
When he was called away
To fight for what all men hold dear
The peace paid by those who face fear
To vanquish evil’s sway
And battling beside brothers
To hold their hard won line
The blood that ran within his veins
Was thick as sap and dulled the pains
Felt far from king white pines

And when the weary victors
Put war’s woe in their wake
He left the heat of those hot isles
With thoughts of cooler days found miles
And years from deaths men make
And every scar he carried
Was circled year by year
By moments made within his wood
With kin from God, who now made good
On their bargain of tears

He only had to take them
To where silence is sound:
A place a man might lose a day
Lost in the way that shadows play
On verdant, golden ground
To share his sacred wonder,
And in turn, they’d opine
That where the earth and heaven meet
Is far from any town or street,
But joins under a pine

The past that pruned his future
Chose him among all men
To serve to keep the sylvan town
Where he put roots and family down
At peace, when crime crept in
And though some scores were settled
With swings from his broad arms
His wiser foes looked in his face
And took their plans far from the place
He kept from evil’s charms

He sheltered those around him
With arms and head held high
To take whatever bolt was thrown
And face what winds the Fates had blown
From their bright, boiling sky
But those he kept the closest
Knew of that fertile ground
That fed his soul and fueled his might;
His love for his God-granted light;
The family he kept bound

When heaven came to claim him,
And fell that towering tree,
It left a blue hole in the sky
Where whispers soft of, “Semper Fi”
Now echo endlessly
And you may here that tribute
And sense his spark divine
Within the land he came to love
A wild white blessing from above;
His kingdom of white pine

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