What Happened at the Service?

Prageeta Sharma

The forest service team came to my house to give me a thin-leafed tree,
and to say you can have something, if you wish.
You can have this native tree, a skinny branch, a skinny leaf
with bareness between the leaves.  
A shrub like me? Here is my bark-being underneath.
The freight service team came to my office to give me a vermilion boxcar,
and to say you can have something if you wish.
Why is there no train service? No Amtrak? No russet cargo of folk,
no poets to embrace because our hands all unclasped in response
to the peptic ulcer of too much fanfare,
woods with austere engravings—plumed-pen-etched-words,
severe sentences with accusations—then interjections—
poets all alone floating skyward.
I have found the writing on the wall to be formidable—no patois,
no interesting resilience—I donít care for leaf rot
nor figures who do their own dance.
They find frozen ground menacing—they found me menacing—
even when they say in unison you can have something, if you wish.
It was not I who shoveled the shore and fixed it to another place.
I didnít find the pallor remarkable nor did I steal it.
I did however try to emulate it—pale-face looked feasible.
I thought I could have something but this was untrue.   
I didnít take your sun.
I didnít take your eyes.
Iíve been trying to salvage the bitter roots that came my way,
the tincture inside watery and unctuous—
maybe the residue is sweet.
Or look to the river with its over-determined gurgles
in the vicinity,
small cascades immersed in scenery.
All will sound false to you but I can hear my real voice attempting speech—
but you happened to me—you ghosted your way through me,
you shrubbed me, not the other way around.
I know these things.
I have been down here, not up there—
I donít believe in powers that be,
but can see how the world looks up there.
How it knights itself with the grandiose—the majestic snow
of simulated faces, the whiteness that surrounds me,
and the quiet that follows.
Copyright © 2010 by Prageeta Sharma. Used by permission of the author.

Poems by This Author

A Legacy by Prageeta Sharma
All this noisy commotion isolated a fairly
A Situation for Mrs. Biswas by Prageeta Sharma
When I received the call I was in a store in Missoula, Montana
Folly Stamp by Prageeta Sharma
Clatter into the window this late night.
Poem for Leigh Hunt by Prageeta Sharma
I find ways to keep a sense of peace
Poetry Anonymous by Prageeta Sharma
Do not fall in love with a poet

Further Reading

Poems about Trees
A Poison Tree
by William Blake
Abandonment Under the Walnut Tree
by D. A. Powell
An Apple Gathering
by Christina Rossetti
Arbolé, Arbolé . . .
by Federico GarcŪa Lorca
Before the Snake
by Nathaniel Tarn
by Cynthia Zarin
by Robert Frost
Christmas Trees
by Robert Frost
by Louise Bogan
by Rose McLarney
Get Used To It
by Margaret Young
Goddess of Maple at Evening
by Chard deNiord
Hard Night
by Christian Wiman
How From Politeness to the Trees
by Cecily Parks
How to Uproot a Tree
by Jennifer K. Sweeney
If You Go into the Woods You Will Find It Has a Technology
by Heather Christle
In California During the Gulf War
by Denise Levertov
by Lloyd Schwartz
Letter from Town: The Almond Tree
by D. H. Lawrence
Loveliest of Trees
by A. E. Housman
Man in Stream
by Rosanna Warren
Mountain Pines
by Robinson Jeffers
My Friend Tree
by Lorine Niedecker
My Lady Is Compared to a Young Tree
by Vachel Lindsay
Not Dead
by Robert Graves
Nothing Gold Can Stay
by Robert Frost
by William Shakespeare
Pear Tree
by H. D.
Russian Birch
by Nathaniel Bellows
by Ellen Dudley
Song of the Trees
by Mary Colborne-Veel
The Apple Trees at Olema
by Robert Hass
The Branches
by Jean Valentine
The Bride Tree Can't Be Read
by Brenda Hillman
The Heart of the Tree
by Henry Cuyler Bunner
The Lemon Trees
by Eugenio Montale
The Life of Trees
by Dorianne Laux
The Mahogany Tree
by William Makepeace Thackeray
The Planting of the Apple-Tree
by William Cullen Bryant
The Poplar
by Richard Aldington
The Sound of the Trees
by Robert Frost
The Testing-Tree
by Stanley Kunitz
The Weight
by Linda Gregg
The Wishing Tree
by Kathleen Jamie
This Lime Tree Bower My Prison
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
by Joyce Kilmer
Trees in the Garden
by D. H. Lawrence
Trees Need Not Walk the Earth
by David Rosenthal
by Alan Shapiro
by Linda Pastan
When Autumn Came
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
White Trees
by Nathalie Handal
by Jane Shore
Winter Trees
by William Carlos Williams