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Posts Tagged ‘trees’

Autumn Beside the River

 

 

 

The rocks that were underwater

two months ago are dry now,

and a woman can sit on them

beneath the bridge and escape

the September sun. But she can’t

escape herself. There was a time

she really believed she could control things.

Now she sits with her own brokenness

and invites the inevitable autumn into her,

the autumn that’s already come.

Invites the lengthening nights. Invites

the dank scent of the garden, moldering and dead.

Invites the loss of green. You can’t be

a sapling forever, she tells herself,

though another part of her argues,

Yes you can, yes you can.

 

The river has never been so clear—

every rock in the bed is visible now,

and perhaps clarity is one of autumn’s best gifts.

She imagines the leaves of her falling off—

how she loves them.

She imagines them golden in the wind.

 

 

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for Jack Ridl and all the rakers

 

 

Pulling the rake through the cottonwood leaves,

I think of Jack in Michigan pulling his rake

through beech, birch, oak and ash leaves.

I stop to lean on my rake and I think

of him stopping to lean on his rake

and talk to the gods. I’m not so sure I believe

in gods, but I believe in Jack. I believe in kindness.

I believe in friendship that grows despite distance.

I believe that these rhythms of raking and making piles

bring us closer together—all of us rakers, all of us

who step into the slow cadence of pull and reach,

and pull and reach. There is something unifying

in this annual act of tidying the world. Every day

the news is full of all we can’t set right. But we

can drag the rake through the yard so that we

can see the path again. And we can set the rake

aside and stare at the sky and think of all

the people we love and all the people

we’ll never know who join us in this simple act,

reach and pull, reach and pull, reach and pull,

the sound of metal tines grating, the beat

of our own hearts scraping against our chests.

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Out the kitchen window, my daughter

scales the cottonwood tree, winds

her way up the inner branches.

 

Feeling my eyes, she turns to smile at me,

her gaze entered by light.

The tree is bare, the buds in gray hoods,

 

though soon there will be a riot of quivering green.

So much in us still waits to arrive,

though in moments such as this,

 

there are no other moments, only this one

fluttering wild in our breast, not even trying

to balance the emptiness, with our hearts so full.

 

 

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Catkins in March

 

 

But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—”Thou mayest”— that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open.

            —John Steinbeck, East of Eden

 

 

Today it was the aspen buds

that ruined my heart.

 

One glimpse of them

through the window, and

 

for that moment,

the inner winter I’d constructed

 

out of should and shalt

fell down like bricks. Perhaps I could have

 

returned to work, but instead

stared at the soft gray

 

tufts of spring. How they defy

the stubborn chill. And almost

 

against my will, in me I felt

an opening I didn’t quite want,

 

and perhaps I didn’t want to hear

a small voice saying, you

 

have a choice, you

have a choice.

 

 

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Sometimes I forget
the trees. It’s embarrassing
to admit. Like saying I forget

I have hands. But
days go by when I do not
consider them. And then

some mornings, today,
for instance, the trees,
like an Indian saint

hurling petals at her attendants,
throw their fluffy white catkins
into my hands, my hair,

into my everywhere I look
until everything is baptized
in white cotton down

and I half expect the giant limbs
to pull me into a great gray trunk
and hold me close, whispering

into my ear, in words so quiet
no one else can hear, my daughter,
my daughter, my daughter, my daughter.

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