For Al

Issue 10 Editor’s Choice for Poetry

(after Whitman)

I want to retire to the woods with a dog. Both are so simple & so self-assured. I stand looking at them silent for so long, realizing trees don’t complain about circumstance. Don’t lie awake in dark rooms cursing with deep regret of a fourth-grade sin. They don’t make me sick like pretentious worship of dead white dude artists. I’ve never talked to one tree obsessed with property. I haven’t heard an oak utter one “yessur” or “no ma’am” to any- one swinging whatever axe they wanted to & despite this, I’ve never met a more “free” thing. They suffer in silence & sing in choirs of quiet. Somewhere water is falling. Somewhere a falcon is pushed from the Belfry & learns to fly &    returns to the top of a tower. Somewhere the wind rises, glazing the leaves, its branches, its trunk & at the root of it—I know you are still singing   or   your laugh is tangled in a cloud that hangs above everything. I’ve learned to like trees because they stay put, & fell for you because you refuse to.