Paper Bark: a haiku/haibun

I remember walking through the woods with my Papaw on the first day of squirrel season, I was probably 10 or 11 years old, enjoying both the beautiful forest we were in as well as just being with my grandfather. As we went along, Papaw pointed out many different things to me, teaching me only a fraction of what this seasoned outdoorsman knew. At some point he pointed out this rather interesting tree with white bark that was peeling away in a hodgepodge manner. 

We walked over to the tree and easily pulled a piece of the bark off and handed it to me. “You what kind of tree this is?”, he asked me. “No, Papaw, I’ve never seen one before”, I answered. “That’s a paper-bark.”, he began to explain. “They call them that because their outer bark is white, thin, and peels right off, like paper …”, I’m sure there was more but that’s the part that stuck, sticks, with me. I later found out there are birch trees and they are, indeed, known as paper-barks. 

birch trees paper bark
soft white armor so fragile
no protection here

Thanks to Chèvrefeuille for today’s writing prompt for stirring this sweet memory up in my foggy old mind. 

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