i speak for the trees

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I have been lucky enough (when I am kid-free…which isn’t often) to take part in a writing workshop offered by Bernadette Mayer. One assignment was to write a poem substituting one theme/idea for something else. That is a poorly-described interpretation of the assignment, mind you. I was given a gorgeous, ancient guide to trees of the eastern and central united states and canada (c. 1946) to work from. Here, months later, is my attempt at that assignment.

……………………………………………………

The Lumberjack Plans His Wedding

He carries A Guide To Trees
in his great hands
like a bible,

begins on page one,
substitutes beautiful girl
for tree.

What is a bride?

To the forester she is a factory

producing the most good timber
in the least possible time
at the least possible expense.

He takes notes on her bark.

Plant a bride where you live,
in ten years you will become so attached
to the young oak
you won’t want to leave her.

His shovel is always at his side.

Once unwed women grew in forests—
reed-like and pliant,
saplings stealing the light
in some places so thick
men could hardly see the sun.

Then came the cry:
let daylight in the swamp.

A generation of pioneers felled
the great brides, burned their magnificent gowns
to get them out of the way.

That era is now past,
the wise botanist tells him,
and the lumberjack, almost a groom,
bends to praise his bride’s persistent stem.

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