Summer 2013 • Vol. XXXV No. 3 Poetry |

The Elm Tree

I look up, and there it is, a Gothic bloom, frozen explosion sharp against the sky. It's going to come down, but the poem happens just before that. The poem loves the moment just before, like the sculptor loved David, twisted with his loaded slingshot. What will be flung are shards of shattered windowpane, as if the stars had fallen and asked we pick them from our hair. Last night the sky turned the color of thinning smoke and rain came fierce upon the roofs like urgent voices calling to the tiny wet dresses of the leaves. I look up: a hundred-year-old elm can bear an enormous amount, but it's the saturated ground that will fail. The poem knows every moment holds more meaning than can be expressed, pauses here to consider. After it falls, which it is just about to do, there will be no music, no whistle through wet branches, no wind flinging its heavy velvet cloth. And the poem will be finished. What is a poem, then? It's a question, a very attentive form of wait

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Jennifer Grotz is the author of The Needle and Cusp and translator from French of Patrice de La Tour du Pin’s Psalms of All My Days, recently published by Carnegie Mellon University Press. She teaches at the University of Rochester and serves as assistant director of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.

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