As part of the 2020 Dear Poet project, students around the country and the world wrote letters to Joy Harjo in response to a video of her reading her poem “Speaking Tree” aloud. Joy Harjo wrote letters back to three of these students; their letters and her replies are included below, along with several additional responses from students.
Joy Harjo also wrote a response to all of the participants of this year's Dear Poet project.
Dear "Speaking Tree" Listeners,
I appreciated that you took time from wherever you live, from however you are living to reach out in a letter, to be part of a larger, even timeless discussion on a poem.
Some of you were in elementary school, some middle school and others high school and even college age. Yet we all came together for a moment to unfold a poem, to find meaning in shape, sound, architecture and content. We make a community.
As I write this, I wonder how many of you are homeschooling, and how many are back in classrooms. It has been difficult for all of us as we wonder together when this pandemic will lift. We want to know when we can once again greet our friends and relatives, go to live performances and eat out together without worry of illness.
I am concerned that every one of you has a home, some place to be in which they are safe. When I was young and first writing poetry, I constructed each poem as a safe place in which I could hide. These poetry houses were made of words, music, images, and spirals of memory.
It is these times, times in which our communities are "broken and bereft," we turn to poetry. Poetry can hold nearly anything. Gwendolyn Brooks' poems held a neighborhood in their lines. Bob Dylan's song lyrics hold the vision of wanderers who carry the light of poetry in their eyes. Poets of every culture in the world turn to the natural world to discover the shape and size of what it means to be human.
We are the trees. They are us.
A few letter writers expressed that they were depressed. They found a way in the poem to move despite the heaviness. There is a poem for everything, every predicament, every unanswerable question. Just dig a little. Ask around.
A few expressed their resistance to reading poetry, then were surprised. Then they wrote poetic letters.
Thank you for your letters. I have read all of them and will keep them close. Take the kind of time you took to write me a letter to have some time with your spirit, your soul, or with the tree who everyday tries to get your attention. You might be surprised.
And be safe.
23rd U.S. Poet Laureate
Joy Harjo reads "Speaking Tree" for Dear Poet 2020.
Dear Joy Harjo,
My name is Kevin, and I’m a high school junior. When I first read your poem “Speaking Tree,” I couldn’t help but flashback to the nostalgia of Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree.” Its classic green cover, cartoonish drawings, and personified tree deeply resonated in my mind as you delivered the lovely Cisneros quote “I had a beautiful dream I was dancing with a tree.” And so, I was immediately transported into a new literary landscape by this poem’s tree-inspired personification and zoomorphic qualities.
I’ve always thought of trees as our self-portraits – their tangled roots, humanly breathes, swaying limbs – so lines like “Nor can they hear the singing of trees when they are fed by / Wind, or water music— / Or hear their cries of anguish when they are broken and bereft—” vividly confirmed my “deepest-rooted” suspicions. As a Floridian, I too have recognized the gentle melodies of sable palms blowing in the wind, and your ability to put into words, so eco poetically, the destruction of entire rows of trees (by hurricanes or industry?) resonated with me the first time I read it. Personally, I see this as a call for action to save an environment that has been plagued by both anthropogenic climate change and heightened natural disasters, although I’m curious to know what inspired this piece. Do you think poetry can perhaps serve as a source of action to reverse the “unspeakable?”
This poem has also allowed me to realize just how strongly science permeates our society, providing a platform from which we can evaluate our most astounding possibilities and greatest challenges. One of my favorite yet puzzling aspects of “Speaking Tree” is its use of enjambment. I find that the underlying music of this poem is highlighted most by the movement or, rather, lack of movement as the speaker longs to be a tree, “planted in a moist, dark earth.” In particular, the use of the dash after “sunrise and sunset” strikes me almost as a horizon line to distinguish the two “I” statements that follow. I would love to hear about how you think the dash functions in poetry and why you decided to use it in certain places of this poem, especially since the second to last line relies on an ellipsis rather than a dash.
Finally, as someone who has only recently started writing poetry, I’m eager to know more about your inspiration when writing new poems. It seems like there are countless ideas to choose from and link together, so what process do you go through when drafting a new piece?
Thank you for sharing your work because it was an honor reading it. This opportunity to explore new poems has greatly expanded my perspective of the world and writing itself. Writers are humanists, capable of uplifting spirits and acting as agents of change, and I’m so appreciative for your poetry in showing me and countless other students how to navigate the unnavigable.
I knew before I got to the fourth paragraph of your letter that you were considering becoming a writer, or a poet. I hear it in how deeply involved you were in the shape and sound patterning that is involved in the experience of the natural world, and in the making of my “Speaking Tree” poem.
When I wrote the poem, I was lost in an unrequited, impossible love. And then my friend Sandra wrote me her dream. Sandra and met each other while studying poetry in graduate school and have been friends ever since. That dream was so evocative. It allowed me to move forward into a space in which a tree, a body, could break free of the impossible. Her quote gave me the doorway to making a poem that would allow me to comprehend as a tree for a while, rather than to be locked in my fixated human mind.
In poetry, it would appear that I am using personification here in my portrayal of trees. In my culture, it is not personification, rather, the trees are beings who do have needs, longings. An Anishnabe artist Wayne ‘Minogiizhig’ Valliere said it best during a presentation, “We’re not losing the birch trees, the birch trees are losing us.”
Poetry gives me the tools to investigate what I do not know. Scientists and poets have much in common. We both investigate patterning and meaning in patterning. We go into our respective spaces with questions we cannot answer, with the need to discover or understand. We might see only the shimmering edge of possibility, a shard, or have only a torn map, only the beginning of an equation, or half an image.
I like that you noticed the dash. There was a time I overused them. I see them as opening up the thinking/dreaming space. A period is finality. A comma: a pause. A dash opens to a longer kind of space. It could signify years, or….even a birch tree!!
Poetry can hold so much---I approach writing a poem with reverence. I move my mind out of the way so I can listen. I do not know where I am going. If I know exactly what I am doing, then there will be no poem.
We are all different. No one’s process is the same. Keep in mind that you have to feed the spirit of your endeavor. Read, listen to, and speak aloud poetry from everywhere.
Thank you for writing. Your letter gave me much to consider.
23rd U.S. Poet Laureate
Dear Joy Harjo,
You say some things on this Earth are unspeakable. But can poets speak it? Or must they dance around it, barely whisper it?
Are we the broken or are we the ones who break? Can I feel like both, can I feel like neither?
What tree do you dream about? Aspen or Acacia? Redwood or Sycamore? Some tree that has not been?
Can anyone really understand poetry? Except, maybe the poet? I don't. Not really. Not yet.
Can the deaf hear the singing of the trees, can the blind see them dancing?
And this water music, is that the Suite by Handel or what lives settled at the bottom of our hearts?
I still don't know who is the broken. Are we all?
The day — is it bright?
What shall I do with all this heartache?
May I suggest that you bear it onto the unbroken. Or is that something that is unspoken?
And if there is no such thing as the unbroken then I will bear the heartache with you.
If you'll let me.
I'll find you again where the river feeds the trees, like your poetry feeds my soul.
Ah, the unspeakable. We go to poetry when we do not have words, when there are no words.
We are the broken and unbroken, simultaneously.
In a poem, we are human and tree.
The deaf hear the most profoundly.
They see how music winds through every increment of being.
Let us bear heartbreak together.
You are anything but heartbreak as you walk into the poem
Where the river feeds the trees.
Love your letter!!
23rd U.S. Poet Laureate
Dear Ms. Joy Harjo,
My name is Amiya. I am in 4th grade at Open Window School. In class, we read your poem “Speaking Tree”. I like how the poem pictures that trees have feeling. The first line that stood out to me was the part when you said, “Some humans say trees are not sentient beings, (next line) But they do not understand poetry.” When my class read this for the first time, I thought that you were saying that trees do not understand poetry, so I wondered how that connected to the previous line. Then I realized what you meant— that those humans do not understand poetry. You also said, “The deepest-rooted dream of a tree is to walk (next line) Even just a little ways, from the place next to the doorway— (next line) To the edge of the river of life, and drink—”. This is a very interesting sentence and can have many meanings. I think it might be like this— the big trees who have entered the world and just lived at the doorway, staying where they are their whole lives, want to go and see the world and all of the life in it.
I noticed that you had a quote at the top of the page, before the poem. Does that mean you agree with it? Or did it kind of inspire you to write this poem? I also have a question about why you made the last 3 lines in italics. Is it to add some kind of emphasis on those words? I also notice that you spaced out some of your lines, but some not. Your first four lines were also very interesting. They do not connect very much to the rest of the poem, but maybe they do if you see it in a different way. Your poem is super awesome. I really liked it.
Thank you so much for your letter about my poem “Speaking Tree”. You were right when you interpreted that humans do not understand poetry, that is, they cannot understand poetry if they cannot understand that trees are living beings who move about in their own way.
Trees pick up information, communicate and have relationships with one another, and are familiar with humans, winds and other beings. Being with the trees taught me this, and poems teach me this. Poems teach me because when I am writing and listening, I am learning how to travel deeper than the mind that can go this way and that all over the surface of things.
In a poem, you can become a tree.
The shape of the poem is naturalistic. I base my lines on phrasing. I often make songs from my poetry, or poetry from song phrases. Poetry and music are like brothers or sisters. They are usually found together.
Thank you for taking the time to write a letter. I can tell you listened closely.
23rd U.S. Poet Laureate
Dear Joy Harjo,
Your poem, “Speaking Tree” greatly resonates with me because I too understand what it is like to want nothing more than to stay rooted in one place for all time, but also to have a burning lust to wander into the great unknown. Lines like “I am a woman longing to be a tree, planted in a moist, dark earth” and “the deepest-rooted dream of a tree is to walk” catch my attention because each being is longing for the experiences of the other. We as humans are always longing for what we cannot have; and so is nature. As the tree longs to walk “to the edge of the river of life,” I want so much more than what my life has presented me with. I grew up in the same city, in the same home, at the same school, with the same sixty people in my grade from day one to year sixteen. I spend hours and hours fantasizing about taking college road trips and who will be my roommate for those four years and which city in Japan will I like the most and how many passport stamps will I have by the time I am beneath that moist, dark earth. And yet, when I am at my most frantic, my most afraid, and my most alone, I want nothing more than to curl beneath the cream yellow covers I’ve had since birth in the 114 square foot room that oftentimes feels suffocating. I am terrified that when I breathe in the London air for the first time, it won’t smell as sweet as I’ve always dreamed. What if I want it to taste like that Texas grit I’ve always known? What if I’m not strong enough to do anything but stay planted where I am?
I see this poem as a story of a world-weary woman who wishes to be as still and steadfast as a great oak tree contrasted with the wishes of a little tree to be something more than wood and bark; to obtain knowledge and see what is beyond the forest. It brings up the values of exploration and comfort, but more importantly exploration versus comfort. The dichotomy of whether it is more virtuous to strive for everything or to be content with nothing. I believe it makes the argument that the need for more and the need for less are both valid and often come from a place of having too much of the other. The trees “imagine what would it be like to dance close together in this land of water and knowledge” because they are so deeply-rooted to the earth. Because they cannot experience anything outside of where they have been placed. Whereas humanity longs to be planted in that earth because they have been given too much freedom. Often, our lives feel so erratic, panicky, and painful that we do not know what to do “with all this heartache.” All we want is the calmness and predictability of the swaying of a tree’s leaves.
When you boil it down even further, this poem becomes a story of the desire that humanity and nature have to become each other. Humanity has quite honestly ascended beyond nature. We have prolonged life past when it is meant to recycle; we have essentially invented magic in the form of technology; but most importantly, we don’t abide by nature’s ebb and flow. We choose our own destiny and inflict our own pain. You describe the line “a shy wind threading leaves after a massacre” as something “unspeakable.” The word choice of a “shy wind” peeking through this man-made atrocity further proves that pain is something we have created. It is something nature feels timid around; something nature is afraid of. Mother Nature created no pain. Everything is a cycle. Sure, everything dies, but everything is also reborn. Humanity wants that systemic life back. We want the peace; we want the simplicity. But, Mother Nature wants just the opposite: She is envious of our freedom. Because Her life is so cyclical, She cannot make Her own choices. Humans can do whatever they wish, but Mother Nature is confined to Her own laws. She can have hiccups, like volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and even plague but She can never experience the joys that come with our fleeting life. She doesn’t get the awkwardness of a first kiss, or the bittersweetness of looking through old photographs, or the joy of a parent watching their child’s first steps. She can only enforce and restore order. This is why the trees want so badly to “drink deep what is undrinkable.” That undrinkable something symbolizes human experiences. Love. Adventure. Knowledge. Freedom. Chaos.
And so, I come to my final question for you, which is deceptively simple. Why a tree? Why not a flower, or a boulder, or a blade of grass? What makes the tree more than any other child of nature akin to man? What makes the trees’ desires specifically anthropomorphic and what makes mans’ desires so intrinsically arboreal? I would love to know what your inspiration for this choice is whether it comes from literature, history, or your own life.
Sincerely, with love and care,
Dear Joy Harjo,
This is a letter written jointly by Chloe, a sophomore, and Seth, a senior. We’re siblings who both go to Biddeford High School in Biddeford Maine. Our teacher is Ms. Foster.
We both read your poem, “Speaking Tree,” and took similar things away from it, which we thought was interesting, so we decided to write our letter together. We thought it would be fun, but it's actually quite difficult, so bear with us.
We both felt like stability was an important theme of the poem. When we were reading it, we weren’t quite sure why the speaker wanted to be a tree. The imagery you incorporated, contrasting the serenity of the tree’s life, with the turmoil of a human one, lead us both to believe that stability was a tree life’s main benefit. It’s probably going to be a cliché in a year, and actually may be already, but we live in pretty unstable times, and the idea of a guaranteed, stagnant life does occasionally seem pretty appealing. However, we think that it would also be very difficult, and as we’ve all started to live a little more like trees this past month, we’re glad that you ultimately concluded something similar in your poem.
Another aspect we both found interesting was the ambiguity about the line “But they do not understand poetry.” Originally, we both thought that this was referring to the tree, but later, we realized that it was actually referring to the people from the prior line. We were very intrigued by this line, and it made us wonder if the desire to be a tree is rooted in a desire to separate yourself from people who don’t respect nature and the “river of life” in general.
Also, on a slightly unrelated note, we really like the work of Sandra Cisneros, which you quoted in the beginning of the poem. Both of us read “Eleven,” which served as our introduction to meaningful, modern writing. I (Seth) even found myself writing about it again as I applied to college this fall. I read “The House on Mango Street,” this year, and found myself again amazed by her perspective on life. I was wondering if she had a similar impact on you as a writer and in general.
Chloe and Seth
Grade 10 and Grade 12
Dear Joy Harjo,
My name is Eyere, I’m a sophomore at Arlington High School in Massachusetts. My English teachers are Ms. Bessette and Ms. Perez. We assigned this project, and for the past few days, I was pretty dead set on writing to Marie Howe, the author of Singularity. Before I was about to start writing, I decided to take a look at all the other poems I was yet to read. As soon as I read the Speaking Tree I knew the poem I wanted to respond to. It made me start thinking about the many things people take for granted. I believe this quarantine has really put that into perspective for not just me but my peers. One of the things most epically taken for granted is nature and its beauty and purpose. Nature is not just for pretty pictures but organisms not only sustaining their own life but helping to keep our way of living afloat. The more time we spend in quarantine the more new animals I seem to find, and the more I spend time admiring trees, flowers, and the sky. The past month and a half had really brought to light how many different forms of life we push out as we try to thrive. The other day I saw a skunk by my house, my first thought was to be disgusted but then I realized I haven't seen a skunk in years. I’ve lived in my house for almost six years and when we first moved in I saw them all the time, but as the population of my neighborhood grew they stopped appearing.
People always talk about wanting to be like other animals or aspects of nature. We glorify the abilities of nature yet we are the same ones who jeopardize it. Your poem made me think about what it would be like to be other walks of life. When I had reached the end of the poem I then realized if I were anything else I have no say in life. Humans dictate absolutely everything in regard to every form of life on this planet. When we elect leaders with a lack of representation and regard for all cultures, sexes, and orientations many people are left unsatisfied, so why is it that so many people are okay with leaders with a lack of regard for our planet? In your poem, you said, “I've heard trees talking, long after the sun has gone down”. My questions to you are: if trees and other forms of life could speak to us what do you think they’d say about today's world? Do you think the world's current circumstance will inspire more people to take action towards the protection of our environment?
As I said earlier your poem made me think about what it would be like to be another form of life. Since this whole thing is poetry inspired I decided to write a poem about what I was thinking. The pandemic has kept everybody inside and every day is sit in my house on the same pieces of furniture, jog the same routes and watch the sunset and rise from my bedroom window. While I was reading your poem I was sitting on my bed once again watching the sunset and it made me think well what if I was the sun. I thought about all the places and people I'd get to see and how eventful life would be. I really enjoyed reading and connecting with your poem, I’m glad it inspired me to not only do the assignment but to put effort into it and to reflect on my life and for that I am extremely grateful.
Dear Joy Harjo,
My name is Emma, and I am an eighth-grade student at Tower Hill school. When my English teacher, Mrs. Ashbrook, told us we were going to be writing letters to poets I was not thrilled, to be honest. That night I read many poems, many poems that didn’t mean anything to me. Until I came across “Speaking Tree”. I know this is going to sound cliché, but I immediately knew I wanted to write to you. Your poem truly inspired me. However, I had so many questions.
As I read your poem I kept wondering who is “the broken” that you are writing about? Are they people, animals, trees, or objects? Every time I thought I had understood a new line, I would end up becoming even more lost. However, this pushed me even harder to find answers. One line that instantly caught my eye, was when you said, “Now I am a woman longing to be a tree”. Being a young girl myself, I wondered why would you chose to be a tree over a strong and powerful woman. A tree that can’t understand the meaning of poetry and can’t feel the importance of emotions. Why would such a talented poet like you leave everything you have ever accomplished to be a tree? As I got deeper and deeper into your poem it started making more sense.
I realized I take my life for granted. When you said, “The deepest-rooted dream of a tree is to walk” I finally understood that no matter how upset I am, I can walk, I can run, I can talk, I can live! All these basic things had never meant so much to me before. However, when I look at trees I don’t feel remorseful towards them. Although they can’t do, see, or witness everything we do, trees can do the thing we could never dream of doing. Like you said, “Imagine what would it be like to dance close together”. We, a society, have a problem trees would never in a million years need to worry about. We do not treat people like we want to be treated, we do not cooperate. Unlike trees, who never get tired of each other, humans find it difficult to do the most simplistic acts of kindness for one another. We bring each other down. I know I am being very harsh on our society, but before I read your poem, I could have never imagined wanting to be a tree. Now it almost feels like a dream that I have dreamt for as long as I can remember.
The last line of your poem says, “To drink deep what is undrinkable”. I think I finally understand what it means to me. No matter who we are, trees, or people, and no matter where we come from, we always want more. Although we like to think we are perfect and thankful for everything that is never the case. For instance, trees will forever long to walk like people, and people will forever long to be united like trees.
Although I still can’t fully grasp the true meaning of “Speaking Tree”. I have come to the conclusion that you leave the reader with questions, so they can stay open-minded allowing for many different opinions. Before reading “Speaking Tree” I had no powerful connection to poetry, but now I can say I do. I would like to thank you for opening a whole new view of life for me.
Dear Joy Harjo,
My name is Einthiri and I am a freshman at University School of Milwaukee. I thought your poem, “Speaking Tree,” was a beautiful poem that emblems the importance of understanding and respecting the beauty that is present in nature around us. Before reading your poem, I had honestly never thought about trees and nature at such a deep, spiritual, and personified level. What did you mean through the phrase “Genealogy of the broken?” For me, it reminds me of a line of descent that has come to an end through loss/death. In the third line, the contrast between “a shy wind” and a massacre is interesting. What made you focus on the silence left behind after a massacre rather than the massacre itself? Your description of “the smell of coffee and no one there” brings out feelings of loneliness and solitude that we have all felt at some point. The line “some humans say trees are not sentient beings,” made me pause and think. I don’t know why, but I had never thought of and nature being able to feel emotions just like us. But after reading this poem, I thought why not? When and how did you become so connected to nature and start to realize that it too had emotions? Was there a person in your life that brought out your connection to nature or did it just occur to you naturally? I had honestly never thought of trees having emotions and feelings but now that I read this poem, you’ve opened my eyes up to nature and have made me think about it a lot more.
I could understand your connection to trees and I could see that trees were your form of poetry. You talk about how some people are unable to hear the trees sing when they are fed by Wind, or water music. In my head, this painted a beautiful picture of how trees are stimulated and made more vibrant through their interaction with other poetic elements (wind, water music). I looked outside my bedroom window and saw the gentle swaying of the trees as they interacted with the wind, almost as if they were dancing. I thought that it was interesting that you didn’t put a comma between water and music. What made you combine the two words and say “water music” instead of “water, and music?”
I feel like line 9, “hear their cries of anguish when they are broken and bereft-” relates a lot to the modern world. The human race has treated the earth horribly. Whether it’s through deforestation, plastic pollution, water/air pollution, etc., your poem made me think about how broken nature feels every time it’s cut down or harmed. You go on to speak about yourself saying that you are, “a woman longing to be a tree, planted in a moist, dark earth,” which I thought was really interesting because you would be rooted in the same spot from sunrise to sunset - you wouldn’t be able to experience walking through all of the different realms of life. This would be a huge contrast to what humans because we don’t stay rooted in one spot. Whereas a tree is in the same spot for its entire life, it stares at the same spot every day but yet, it experiences so many beautiful changes. You said that your “yearning” is something that is impossible to handle alone in the dark, and it causes a lot of heartache. Whether you feel alone in the way you think, ideas you have, etc., feeling alone is something that everybody can relate to and has felt. How have you coped with feeling alone in your emotions? You talk about how you believe trees carry dreams of being able to, “walk even just a little ways, from the place next to the doorway—” They would like to travel to the “edge of the river of life, and drink”.
I love the parallel concept of how you want to be a tree and stay rooted in the same place in order to understand other “realms” while in the same way, the tree dreams of becoming a human in order to explore other “realms.” Your love and connection you share with nature are clearly visible through lines such as: “I have heard trees speaking long after the sun has gone down.” It is interesting to think about how the trees seek the qualities that humans have - the ability to move and physically interact with one another. However, ultimately, it is disappointing to realize that both humans and nature are stuck and can’t enter into realms different from their own or as you phrased it, “To drink deep what is undrinkable.” The ending line really struck a deep chord because we all have aspirations and dreams and some are highly unattainable but our job is to just keep dreaming, believe in it, and take whatever you can. Your poem was truly beautiful and moving and it gave time to just empty all of my thoughts and stare outside of my bedroom window at the beautiful place we call our home. Your poem truly made me sit down and appreciate the nature around us, and it helped me realize that if you can dream of being a tree and exploring the other realms of life, I can dream of anything too (whether it’s unattainable or not).
Dear Joy Harjo,
My name is Ashley, and I am currently a freshman at Orange County School of the Arts in the Creative Writing conservatory. Because I was in a poetry performance project at OCSA, I was honored to go with several other student friends and my teacher Josh Wood to watch you perform at UC Irvine. You played the saxophone beautifully, and your poetry stunned me with its natural beauty. Furious doesn’t cover the emotion I was feeling when I saw two freshman students next to me sleeping in their chairs. But enough about that. I want to tell you how much I loved your poem.
Speaking Tree is the perfect name for it. I used to put trees in the category of things I liked alongside biscuits and black tuxedos and the moon, but because of you I can connect with them more and see them as they are-living, breathing, generous beings. You may be familiar with the poem “Forgotten Language” by Shel Silverstein. It reminds me of you, and I’m sure you’d love it. But I remember reading this poem when I was little when I was in tune with nature, always outside playing until sundown. Though no one would trust me, I secretly believed that fairies lived in the blossoms, the flowers spoke to one another, and all of the animals were both comical archenemies and endearing best friends to one another. My eyes sparkled with curiosity, and a part of me listened to hear if Peter Pan would dart towards me from a distant horizon.
Slowly this liquid glitter seeped out of me like sap and amber from a dark tree, and it saddens me to recount the story of how living became a motion on a wheel instead of the flight of an eagle. I want to make steps towards being the best version of me again and to help nature. This poem makes me want to talk to plants and save the owls, clean the beaches and watch the lizards scurry into the green, to eat the fruit of good and evil and have the knowledge of true life dripping from my grinning jaws.
Just between you and me, I have struggled with depression, and the last few years have been a fight to stay optimistic because I feel like if I don’t, the sky will fall, and I will fall apart. Looking at trees and listening to them helps steady myself so that I can breathe easier and share their roots, lingering in their ethereal, otherworldly shade. I can be isolated from the annoyances of ruthlessness and judgement, clinging to the eaves, enjoying the green, ecstatically sharing
their bark. During a time when I was a little older, I would be at the stables waiting for my sister to finish riding her horse. There was a twisted oak tree by the benches and horse stalls, and I picked at the brown shell until I felt green powder dye my fingertips. The experience of reading this poem and hearing your lovely voice feels like doing that in a beneficial way. I become less irate. I feel connected, in place, genuine, honest, and, oddly enough, happy.
I don’t like the sun, but this poem inspires me to go outside and skip and swim, holding the hands of the wolves and howling at something hidden behind a cloud. Since reading Eagle Poem, I have loved your work, and you motivate me to stand taller, walk among the trees, and become my longed for change. I can change, and I’m better for it. My own leaves are turning greener as summer approaches, like shedding off dead layers to prepare for what is to come. The best is yet to come, and I can’t wait any longer. Thank you for this priceless gift, and may the trees always protect you with their apple bearing-and-giving arms.
Santa Ana, CA
A couple links to things I wanted to share with you: :]