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ISSUE:  Winter 2001

Sworn and lost to night, certain trees
reproach their limit.
I am not standing in my usual way,
ground seems too bright with lunarness,
and so I throw my head back,
draped like topmost branches.
Then I eye the trees
with that advantage.
They are not alike.
They are stained with a oneness,
and the tangle of each
observes a strange maximum.
They frighten, trees do.
I watch the scrawl tighten,
a serpent held still,
or a muscle at its last enormous luxury
in wood.
Nothing is familiar,
there is nothing you can humanize
—a fierce grip, maybe,
but I have never felt that.
Commanding mass, lit substance,
so estranged from the bottom part:
belief. The rasp
of this. Startled, smitten: night.
Emptiness. And a fear of simple things,
bark, root,
water, sap.
Terror. I will have to learn it again,
as a tree can cling
and wrap itself with such passion
around blackness.


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