Poetry Dispatch No. 203 | December 9, 2007
MY COUNTRY, WHICH IS OF TREES by Frances May
Everything on this great green earth is alive —
alive in a planetary way, holding our truth.
You hear how the leaves come awake in the night
like people we know and marvel at their industry,
but trees in the summer can be deeply disturbed
and keep us under anxiety all through the night
in our minds that they cannot reach in our sounds
but rattle, thrash and groan among their ancestry
locked in boards of houses and barns, our churches
until the young shingles fly away in the night.
In the morning elms may be darkened and silent
and the glorious maples are bedraggled creatures
combing their leaves in a seemingly penitent air.
In their shadow-height and their lack-luster gratitude
the trees still shed their beneficence for all comers.
And the winter seems to be the long night for trees,
cold, wet snow creeping around their earth bound feet,
ice water dripping down bare limbs to a sodden ground
while they wait, wordless, for the sun, moods of its own.
Our alien chatter, if it could pierce the bark of a tree
has no foreseeable effect on these natives we use for shade
and comfort according to the old rabbinical bards of nature
but the elements imposed into the bodies and blood of trees
are here for lifetimes, like our birds, jewels of the air.
from THE RAIN BARREL, Cross+Roads Press/Door County Editions, 2005, $10.
This poem also appears in THE NATURE OF DOOR, Writers and Artists on Preservation of Place, edited by Norbert Blei and Karen Yancey, 135 pp, illustrated, The Door County Land Trust, 2006, $15