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My Witness Tree

With credit to Bob Hicok, in whose poem, “What I Know for Sure” I first read the term


I only heard these words together
for the first time last week: witness trees.
So I looked them up
and found their stories, both romantic and tragic.

There are Cherokee arborglyphs,
where they carved a record of their trails.
You can drive your wagon through a sequoia named
‘Wawona’ if you’re traveling down the Yosemite Valley.

There’s the Buddha’s banyan,
where he sat sheltered for years
and was eventually enlightened.

Newton napped under an apple tree,
Washington chopped a cherry,
and Shakespeare planted a mulberry.

Andrew Jackson has a prayer oak,
Pickett a black walnut,
and marking the graves of Union prisoners
is the Andersonville Magnolia.

My father planted a sugar maple in our front yard
the year we moved into the house on Hartford Drive
and that summer, when it was late, but still really light,
we played Red Rover at the Frasers’ across the street.
It felt like every kid in the neighborhood
stood in one of those two lines,
and we whooped and hollered
until Mom turned the porch light on.

Of course, Neil’s team won,
because he was the biggest and
could lock arms really tight,
no matter who came over.
At least, this is how I remember it.
I don’t know what the tree remembers.


Today on my other blog, I wrote about Thich Nhat Hanh’s song/poem for Walking Meditation.  Snow Sticks

I have arrived; I am home.
In the here, in the now.
I am solid; I am free.
In the ultimate, I dwell.

January 2016 started with one of my poems chosen as a Goodreads poetry finalist  (five finalists).   It was such a lovely surprise!

I did not win, but placed right in the middle.  I will spout a familiar line, “I am honored just to be nominated.”  True.  The winner’s poem, Rose Mary Boehm’s  Absence deserved the win, and  I’m happy to be a hand-maiden.

Here is my finalist poem.

The Music Collection

I pulled out all of your records.
The soldier-straight rows collapsed and left
a half-life disintegrating heap of cardboard sleeves.

I stacked shiny slivers
silvered music re-mastered tinny girl songs
Joni Judy Carol Carly.

Her guitar strums and echoes
until echoes stripe the white hallway.
She would use the word wistful or wishful,
wouldn’t she?

Tremolo, tremolo
Doppling wide, wide, wide, wide.
How far does sound travel before it shifts to gone?

Late afternoon shadow
leans into tomorrow.
I miss
the scritch of the needle.