Like as the Waves

After Shakespeare’s Sonnet LX

The hemlock woolly adelgid, Adelges tsugae (HWA), a tiny
sap-sucking insect related to aphids, is causing widespread
death and decline of hemlock trees in the eastern United
                    United States Department of Agriculture

I praise your worth despite cruel hands that weave white
wool around the silvery
underside of lacy twigs. Observe their green, drooping
tips work their glory
in Blue Ridge, Shenandoah, and the Great Smokies– Soon
they will no longer
shelter red-shouldered hawks and palm warblers from
winter winds. Watch the black-
capped chickadees fill their bellies with needles and
seeds while you feed on the rare
truths of nature. You will suck the sap of the hemlocks’
silhouettes marking
each year on the thick, rigid bark, waiting patiently for
time to transform
thriving sprays to grey husks. How does it feel to wield a
scythe? I imagine
you offering no apologies for your infestation–
For there is clarity in bare branches, an urgency in the
a beauty that deepens when birth is no longer in head-
lights– a comfort
when the forest has nothing left to reap–when our min-
utes rush to the end.

Victoria Nordlund’s poetry collection Binge Watching Winter on Mute was published by Main Street Rag in June 2019. She is a 2018 Best of the Net and 2020 Pushcart Prize Nominee, whose work has appeared in PANK Magazine, Rust+Moth, Gone Lawn, Pidgeonholes, Maudlin House, and elsewhere. Visit her at