Published on Academy of American Poets (

The Praying Tree

Ten years of driving the same highway, past the same tree, the
    picture is
at last complete. The eucalyptus tree and narrow birds above a
steel sea with no thoughts of yesterday, today, or tomorrow.

Black cormorants on bare branches spread their wings as if in
A sunny day in Summerland and the tree, visible only from the
hides its penitent perch from cars racing by too fast.

Four wheels swerve to avoid a sheer cliff, southbound on the 101.
The fat sun slides its yolk into the glass ocean. Slow down, see
an empty nest of woven round sticks in the praying tree.

Birds soak in rays without fear of melanoma or the nature
of forgiveness. Slick imperfections, wet wings
open and close in Morse code for goodbye.


Copyright © 2015 by Melinda Palacio. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 23, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets

About this Poem

“I consider myself an observant person. I was surprised that it took showing off the Pacific Ocean to a visitor for me to notice the simple splendor of eucalyptus on the border of Santa Barbara and Summerland that I’ve dubbed the praying tree.”
Melinda Palacio


Melinda Palacio

Melinda Palacio is the author of How Fire Is a Story, Waiting (Tia Chucha Press, 2012). She lives in Santa Barbara and New Orleans.

Date Published: 2015-09-23

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