The pines rub their great noise
into the spangled dark, scratch
their itchy boughs against the house,
that moan’s mystery translates roughly
into drudgery of ownership: time
to drag the ladder from the shed,
climb onto the roof with a saw
between my teeth, cut
those suckers down. What’s reality
if not a long exhaustive cringe
from the blade, the teeth. I want to sleep
and dream the life of trees, beings
from the muted world who care
nothing for Money, Politics, Power,
Will or Right, who want little from the night
but a few dead stars going dim, a white owl
lifting from their limbs, who want only
to sink their roots into the wet ground
and terrify the worms or shake
their bleary heads like fashion models
or old hippies. If trees could speak,
they wouldn’t, only hum some low
green note, roll their pinecones
down the empty streets and blame it,
with a shrug, on the cold wind.
During the day they sleep inside
their furry bark, clouds shredding
like ancient lace above their crowns.
Sun. Rain. Snow. Wind. They fear
nothing but the Hurricane, and Fire,
that whipped bully who rises up
and becomes his own dead father.
In the storms the young ones
bend and bend and the old know
they may not make it, go down
with the power lines sparking,
broken at the trunk. They fling
their branches, forked sacrifice
to the beaten earth. They do not pray.
If they make a sound it’s eaten
by the wind. And though the stars
return they do not offer thanks, only
ooze a sticky sap from their roundish
concentric wounds, clap the water
from their needles, straighten their spines
and breathe, and breathe again.
From Facts About the Moon (W. W. Norton, 2009). Copyright © 2009 by Dorianne Laux. Used with permission of the author.
You say your sunflowers are fifteen feet tall?
This Catalpa is thirty feet, higher than the house.
Soon the burdock and bitter dock will bury us in green.
Our city feeds on jungle leaves the size of elephant ears.
The Catalpa pods hang, enormous dangling beans.
The Catalpa Tree does not enrich, nor does
the monstrous burdock, be it bitter or curled.
We laughed at how the Catalpa eats men and cats.
How its cheap matter foams at dusk to harden overnight.
The Catalpa feeds on wormseed oil and nightshade flower-shine.
The Catalpa Tree’s leaves smother and its dagger-beans stab.
Hundreds of pods hang in clumps over our heads.
Not to notice is worrisome, as one man moved once into the green
through a side door, his skull pierced
as he entered the Catalpa’s spacious mansion
of enormous rooms, some spired and domed, some
small and smoky like cities across an oily river.
You will find platforms where one can view new stars.
If you climb high, you can hear the long wind
since each is a stream pulled from one overarching wind.
The Catalpa Tree sprawls through the grate,
growing overnight, from sidewalk to sun tower.
Picked, the beans turn black, as the tree’s leaves shrink to pea green,
the pallor of the ripe stiff putrefying by the chain-link.
Copyright © 2023 by Regan Good. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 23, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.