translated from the Danish by Susanna Nied

Then suddenly beech woods, all green behind the dozing eyes
a deer leaps across the forest road
scents of acid and moss and cheek against bark, sunrain
between trunks, I’m home and hear the Baltic Sea
crash against big rocks far away and I rest like a
fairy or a witch in the sweet smells of the forest floor
we can so easily forget what we are who we are
that we are, but it takes only a little call
to waken the sleepers, as now, in the forest, for
LISTEN, isn’t that song and the chiming of goblets
sounding in the green chambers? YES by golly, a celebration
for the child in his seventeenth year, who never has
been happier and never will be happier; the world shimmers
everything unimaginably possible while a handspring
and a new but not disturbing sensitivity have settled
in the middle of his irresistibly marzipanescent



Alting Blinker


Så pludselig bøgeskov, helt grønt bag de blundende øjne
en hind springer over den stampede jordvej
her lugter af syre og mos og kinden mod bark, solregn
mellem stammer, jeg er hjemme og hører Østersøen
slå mod store sten langt borte er jeg hvilende som en
fe eller en heks i skovbundens dufte
vi kan så let glemme at vi er dem vi er
at vi er, men der skal bare et lille signal til
at vække den slumrende, som nu, i skoven, for
HØR NU er det ikke sang og bægerklang
der lyder i de grønne sale? JO, et gilde sørme
for barnet i sit syttende år, der aldrig har
haft det bedre og aldrig får det bedre; verden blinker
alting ufatteligt muligt mens et kraftspring
og en ny men ikke forstyrrende følsomhed har slået sig ned
midt i den uimodståeligt marcipanemmende

From Alting Blinker. © Naja Marie Aidt. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2015 by Susanna Nied. All rights reserved.

(while wandering in the forest at Indian Point, Ellsworth, Maine)

Bats watched them fall, cupped like tiny palms, 
toward earthen forests. 
They land, eager ears up, 
on twigs and felled branches. 

They nestle between lichen, 
  figure out hyphae, 
  the deep composting web. 

Once homed, aliens echolocate via sonar chirps, 
Blue Jay, 
Hairy Woodpecker, 
Song Sparrow, 
Black-Capped Chickadee, 
Northern Parula, 
the Black-Throated Green Warbler. 

Thin sound beams traverse the woods, establish generations, 
the milky way’s travelers in their new division. 
The trill of me, me, me, a tiny army of green shells, 
parsing old and new ocean kinships. 

And then they wait. 
Wood fibers decay, 
car tires feed carbon black into morning breezes, 
a hint of rock dust, 
rush hour exhaust fumes. 

They stir the pot, assemble new fuel,
toward the day that conflagration will send them,         
spores and all, 
  toward the orbit, 
  beyond it, 
  into nebulae, 
  closer, so much closer 
  into the dark.

Copyright © 2023 by Petra Kuppers. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 31, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets. 

The forest road,
The infinite straight road stretching away
World without end: the breathless road between the walls
Of the black listening trees: the hushed, grey road
Beyond the window that you shut to-night
Crying that you would look at it by day—
There is a shadow there that sings and calls
But not for you. Oh! hidden eyes that plead in sleep
Against the lonely dark, if I could touch the fear
And leave it kissed away on quiet lids—
If I could hush these hands that are half-awake,
Groping for me in sleep I could go free.
I wish that God would take them out of mine
And fold them like the wings of frightened birds
Shot cruelly down, but fluttering into quietness so soon.
Broken, forgotten things; there is no grief for them in the green Spring
When the new birds fly back to the old trees.
But it shall not be so with you. I will look back. I wish I knew that God would stand
Smiling and looking down on you when morning comes,
To hold you, when you wake, closer than I,
So gently though: and not with famished lips or hungry arms:
He does not hurt the frailest, dearest things
As we do in the dark. See, dear, your hair—
I must unloose this hair that sleeps and dreams
About my face, and clings like the brown weed
To drowned, delivered things, tossed by the tired sea
Back to the beaches. Oh! your hair! If you had lain
A long time dead on the rough, glistening ledge
Of some black cliff, forgotten by the tide,
The raving winds would tear, the dripping brine would rust away
Fold after fold of all the loveliness
That wraps you round, and makes you, lying here,
The passionate fragrance that the roses are.
But death would spare the glory of your head
In the long sweetness of the hair that does not die:
The spray would leap to it in every storm,
The scent of the unsilenced sea would linger on
In these dark waves, and round the silence that was you—
Only the nesting gulls would hear—but there would still be whispers in your hair;
Keep them for me; keep them for me. What is this singing on the road
That makes all other music like the music in a dream—
Dumb to the dancing and the marching feet; you know, in dreams, you see
Old pipers playing that you cannot hear,
And ghostly drums that only seem to beat. This seems to climb:
Is it the music of a larger place? It makes our room too small: it is like a stair,
A calling stair that climbs up to a smile you scarcely see,
Dim, but so waited for; and you know what a smile is, how it calls,
How if I smiled you always ran to me.
Now you must sleep forgetfully, as children do.
There is a Spirit sits by us in sleep
Nearer than those who walk with us in the bright day.
I think he has a tranquil, saving face: I think he came
Straight from the hills: he may have suffered there in time gone by,
And once, from those forsaken heights, looked down,
Lonely himself, on all the lonely sorrows of the earth.
It is his kingdom—Sleep. If I could leave you there—
If, without waking you, I could get up and reach the door—!
We used to go together.—Shut, scared eyes,
Poor, desolate, desperate hands, it is not I
Who thrust you off. No, take your hands away—
I cannot strike your lonely hands. Yes, I have struck your heart,
It did not come so near. Then lie you there
Dear and wild heart behind this quivering snow
With two red stains on it: and I will strike and tear
Mine out, and scatter it to yours. Oh! throbbing dust,
You that were life, our little wind-blown hearts!
                              The road! the road!
There is a shadow there: I see my soul,
I hear my soul, singing among the trees!

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on January 14, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

I have seen a tree split in two
from the weight of its opposing branches.
It can survive, though its heart is exposed.
I have seen a country do this too.

I have heard an elder say
that we must be like the willow—
bend not to break.
I have made peace this way.

My neighbors clear-cut their trees,
leaving mine defenseless. The arborist
says they’ll fall in the first strong wind.
Together we stand. I see this now.

I have seen a tree grown around
a bicycle, a street sign, and a chainsaw,
absorbing them like ingredients
in a great melting pot.

When we speak, whether or not
we agree, the trees will turn
the breath of our words
from carbon dioxide into air—

give us new breath
for new words,
new chances to listen,
new chances to be heard.

Copyright © 2021 by Rena Marie Priest. Originally published in Spark: The Magazine of Humanities Washington, 2021, issue 2. Used with the permission of the poet.

We go looking for tea cedar, crow feather, and first snow
to stick, but find the mud still warm under our feet, the Earth's
moist breath still fogging the looking glass this late into fall.

Deep in our bones, we know we'll waltz on over the Frost Moon
before the first big freeze cracks Ironwood, and the hunkered
Sun, low in her cross-quarter nest, fades into dim Solstice.

The Wind Hag is just now beginning her November dance,
pirouetting north, Superior throbbing her meter
deep into the basalt below and beyond simple ken.

Deep in our bones, we feel the forest vibrate in omen,
but as we’ve no one near to confide in, we must worry
our best wishes, casting spells against the coming darkness.

Copyright © 2021 by M Bartley Seigel. This poem originally appeared in About Place Journal, May 2021. Used with permission of the author.