The Liberty Oak of West Tisbury

This old oak tree in West Tisbury has stood so long

in the center of its field close to the center of its town

close to the center of its Island off center of its

country, but certainly center of its known universe.

It stretches roots in each direction toward every town.

It has plumbed the earth below and balances a crown,

leafy, windblown, waving to the all unseeing people,

who pass by in cars or bikes, walk or stroll.

A tree doesn’t feel, we know, so when close to half

the trunk falls away in a storm, it was we who felt,

“Oh, no” and we hurt in that part that cannot speak,

cannot share floral grief, can not reach out to a tree

and say “There, there. you’ll be all right, you’ll see.

You have been here all of two hundred years, giving

us strength and beauty — by not even trying — it’s

your nature to grow this way. It seems futile to say,

but like all beautiful and strong things in our town,

with grace, you show us what we can still become.

— Fan Ogilve, Poet Laureate of West Tisbury