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The Osage orange (that little tree by the lake
we called bodark) grows fast and stays squat,
blackland native stout-limbed and braiding
her coarse hair. The dense flesh, perfect

to make a bow arc or knife handle, is tough
to cut, won’t rot, and burns for days. To hold
livestock they were planted first in hedgerows.
Later, to string barbed wire, ranchers sawed off

their crowns, leaving the roots. The scrub prairies
of east Texas are still surveyed by these
bois d’arc posts, steles to remind us that we
didn’t always need fences. The tie post

hangs on, its barbwire rusting out of old
scars, dead roots unrotted in the black clay.

T. J. McLemore’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Salamander, Crazyhorse, and other journals, and he won the 2016 Richard Peterson Poetry Prize at Crab Orchard Review. He lives in Fort Worth, Texas, and teaches at TCU.

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