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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brenda Hillman
Brenda Hillman
Brenda Hillman was born in Tucson, Arizona, in 1951. She was educated...
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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 García Lorca
Before the Snake
by Nathaniel Tarn
Birch
by Cynthia Zarin
Birches
by Robert Frost
Christmas Trees
by Robert Frost
Elders
by Louise Bogan
Gather
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
Leaves
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
Orpheus
by William Shakespeare
Pear Tree
by H. D.
Russian Birch
by Nathaniel Bellows
Solstice
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 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
Trees
by Joyce Kilmer
Trees in the Garden
by D. H. Lawrence
Trees Need Not Walk the Earth
by David Rosenthal
Vantage
by Alan Shapiro
Vertical
by Linda Pastan
What Happened at the Service?
by Prageeta Sharma
When Autumn Came
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
White Trees
by Nathalie Handal
Willow
by Jane Shore
Winter Trees
by William Carlos Williams
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The Bride Tree Can't Be Read

 
by Brenda Hillman

The bride tree puts down its roots
below the phyla. It is there
when we die & when we are born,
middle & upper branches reaching
the planet heart by the billions
during a revolution we don’t see.

Quarks & leptons are cooling
on their infant stems, spinning the spinning
brain of matter, fled to electrical dark 
water, species with names the tree
can hold in the shale shade brought
by the ambulance of art;

no one but you knows what occurred
in the dress you wore in the dream
of atonement, the displaced tree in
the dream you wore, a suffering endurable
only once, edges that sought release
from envy to a more endurable loss,

a form to be walked past, that has
outworn the shame of time,
its colors sprung through description 
above a blaze of rhizomes spreading 
in an arable mat that mostly 
isn't simple but is calm & free—
About this poem:
"A few months ago, I ran past a flowering plum tree in Berkeley, at its height of its flowering; I had been speaking with a friend about the economic doom that is happening-- no matter what they say about 'economic recovery'-- and about a struggle she was having in a relationship. I started thinking about  'between' zones in everything:  between perceptions, between sound and sense, between ease & fear, between landscape & dreamscape. I like images in poetry that can apply simultaneously to things like plants and soil and to an invisible spirit world and to linguistic constructs.  The horrors of an economy that serves so few and the friend's woes were in my mind when I wrote the first two stanzas, but there was a shift during the writing. In forms of life other than human, there is a vitality that isn't trapped in the sorrow. There may be an arable mat that is beyond our ability to harm it, or a collective unconscious. What would ease my friend's pain?  The passage of time, or simply remembering a moment of  undemanding beauty. A dress you wore, even if you no longer own that dress."

—Brenda Hillman  






Copyright © 2013 by Brenda Hillman. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on October 28, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.
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