this is not somewhere else but here

trees at the Gorge
 
This poem by Adrienne Rich reminds me of of the fragile paradise Denise Levertov describes in a piece I posted last year at around the same time. If you have a moment, read the two side by side. And if you have another moment, listen to Adrienne Rich read this particular poem here
 
 
“What Kind of Times Are These”
 
There’s a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows uphill
and the old revolutionary road breaks off into shadows
near a meeting-house abandoned by the persecuted
who disappeared into those shadows.

I’ve walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but don’t be fooled
this isn’t a Russian poem, this is not somewhere else but here,
our country moving closer to its own truth and dread,
its own ways of making people disappear.

I won’t tell you where the place is, the dark mesh of the woods
meeting the unmarked strip of light—
ghost-ridden crossroads, leafmold paradise:
I know already who wants to buy it, sell it, make it disappear.

And I won’t tell you where it is, so why do I tell you
anything? Because you still listen, because in times like these
to have you listen at all, it’s necessary
to talk about trees.

I have made this place around you

Long days spent in front of computer screens certainly make me long for trees. But it’s late and pouring outside, so tonight I venture into the forest via this poem by David Wagoner (1926-) and remind myself to stand still.

“Lost”

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

they have carried me in their branches

Pulitzer Prize-winning W.S. Merwin was born in New York in 1927 and is currently living in Hawaii after years of traveling the world. He has not only written countless poems with themes ranging from mythology to strong anti-war sentiments but has also done many translations of French, Italian, Latin and  Spanish poetry. Check him out.

Yosemite, 2007.
Yosemite, 2007.

“Trees”

I am looking at trees
they may be one of the things I will miss
most from the earth
though many of the ones I have seen
already I cannot remember
and though I seldom embrace the ones I see
and have never been able to speak
with one
I listen to them tenderly
their names have never touched them
they have stood round my sleep
and when it was forbidden to climb them
they have carried me in their branches