To See a Poem in a Tree

You will need time.

Simple appearance

changes with the light,

weather, and season.


Colors shift; needles,

blossoms, nuts, seed pods

come and go.


Imagine the invisible.

Roots underground

mirror branches above.

Bark shields wood.


Reflect on the gifts:

shade, fuel, food, shelter,

beauty, wonder.


Consider the variety:

baobab, sequoia, palm,

almond, willow, sycamore,

olive, aspen, magnolia.


And here the poem shifts

to topics seemingly unrelated,

the odder the better to baffle

readers: the Byzantine empire

or Galapagos Islands, Cassiopeia,

Cetus, the table of elements, Donald

Duck, China’s Great Wall—all poets

fashion comparisons.


A sly allusion to a famous line adds

a nice touch, as do crunchy verbs,

murmuring metaphors, arcane words.


For an oak or cedar is more than a tree.

And a poem is not a piece of glass

but a wrestling match.

Pat Tompkins
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