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How A Thing Is Made

ISSUE:  Spring 1984


It is good to feel embarrassed
in front of trees, the leaves
do not make money working
part time at minimum wage.

When I’m in their country,
alone and out of money,
they couldn’t care less.
When the electricity goes out

the cat sits in the cool
fork of the tree—stone
smooth Buddha, surrendering
to no one.


A tree’s hard years are wound
tightly in tree rings.
The rings of the soul must be like this:
rough sexual energy that survives.

In a hundred years the roots
will be holes the rats have burrowed
into, gnawing the soft wood
as they build houses

their children will leave.
Becoming thoughtful and grave
as my father dressing 2 × 4’s
in the basement, I listen

to the cheerful noise the trees make
rattling as they clean house.


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