Hidden on the mountainsides of Appalachia
lives beneath majestic canopies
a tree they call the Judas tree.
Its purple buds begin the spring
break through the bark betrayed by winter’s silver hands.
And as the sun burns higher in the sky
begin to tremble, shake, and beat.
Humbled underneath the shade of oak and ash it greets
the seal of Solomon
the ginseng with its fabled powers.
Beside it bows the dogwood
bright bracts cut short by blood-brown marks,
its body twisted with a gnarled grace.
legacy of our betrayal
brings forth the rosy lips of spring.
emblem of God’s suffering
whispers in the wakening gloom
not even Judas lies beyond the love of God.