Alison Jauss



    I have seen what a tree does
    in the distance,

    furred thing

    up the hillside.
    Even in winter its crawling

    life goes on. It drags
    its wounded leg.

    Some trees hunch. Some stand
    rigid & pruned, listening

    keenly against the wind.

    Some trees split open, & fall
    an outcry.

    The earth churns below.


    When I go walking I pass a tree forked

    & huge with age. I touch
    its grooveswet with sap or kept

    rain. It takes a deep
    breath out of me to remember

    the dark whorled roots buried below.

    Eely & cool
    under my house, the hunting

    roots & worms.

    They must make a sound.

    I won't say the dead hear it,

    though it moves through them.



    If I put my face to the ground,
    would I hear it?

    Would I know how far down
    the tree streams

    a deep river, its low 

    music? I am certain
    it throbs, like a cello.

    The part I can see
    is the thrusting up

    into light. Not how it first came,
    not how it worked

    or still worksthe long slow

    Not the turning tunnel
    of entrails below.

    I want to know 
    how far it has to go

    in the winding dark.

    How far it must go on & on
    in longing.


stringfellow.jpg (34291 bytes)
C. Stringfellow