The Trees

For Dr. Cathy Sepko


She saw the light first as a little girl

In the hard knuckle granite of West Virginia –

A distant fire in a snowy wood

Filled with the paddings of foxes,

Crickets in the indigo dusk.

 

She learned to read the braille of wood bark

Leading toward that flame,

The rust of sky heavy on the trees.

 

Can you hear them? she would call to us,

Can you hear the songs of old?

The wide winds of rhythm,

The open mouth of the moon

Cooing along the quiet river?

 

She taught us in the forest

To feel the poems in the pines,

To dig our teeth deep into the dirt to taste the earth.

 

She taught the rocks to rhyme,

Pressed a shard of coal into the stone

To carve her spot in time.

 

And now, she sits on a smooth stump before the fire

Surrounded by the faces of a generation,

Ten thousand family trees

Singing softly in the starlight, leaning in to listen

As she warms her tired feet.

Delineation

I wrote this poem across the length of California,

Scrawling these ink strokes through the vineyards and the shoreline,

Even on the edges of the “H” in Hollywood.

 

I waltzed through the City of Angels

Tuned to an imaginary score,

Pulling up pieces of the highway and blowing them in the air.

Then I hopped on the eastbound train in an old and rusted boxcar,

Writing another line on the face of wooden crates,

Even on the metal sheets stacked against the corner.

 

The next night I high-fived the vampires in Denver

And dashed off another verse on a creaky traffic light

As I swung from its taut cable, my shoelaces

Reaching toward the windows of the passing cabs below.

 

In Dallas they saw me dance on all the tablecloths,

Kicking over glasses, scribbling on the centerpieces.

 

I wandered round in Nashville,

Dizzied by the neon lights,

And etched a lovely metaphor on the back of a guitar,

One where I compared love to a waning moon.

 

Then the wind ran wild beneath my arms in Atlanta,

The universe of skyscrapers, planets of burning light,

Offices and windows humming with breath

And watching close as I straddled the top of a limousine,

Pockets inside out, my words on every exit

Down the infinite interstate.

 

Well, I should tell you,

I wrote this poem all the way to your house

Where I finally lay down in the middle of the road,

Anchored the tip of my pen to your cold street,

And waited for the world to turn,

Drawing a new equator.

 

Two hemispheres,

One for each of us.