Perhaps the purpose of leaves is to conceal the verticality of trees which we notice in December as if for the first time: row after row of dark forms yearning upwards. And since we will be horizontal ourselves for so long, let us now honor the gods of the vertical: stalks of wheat which to the ant must seem as high as these trees do to us, silos and telephone poles, stalagmites and skyscrapers. but most of all these winter oaks, these soft-fleshed poplars, this birch whose bark is like roughened skin against which I lean my chilled head, not ready to lie down.
From Traveling Light, published by W. W. Norton & Company. Copyright © 2010 by Linda Pastan. Used with permission of the publisher.