Thursday, January 24, 2019

Poetry Friday

photo via Unsplash

by Linda Pastan

Perhaps the purpose 
of leaves is to conceal 
the verticality 
of trees
which we notice 
in December 
as if for the first time: 
row after row 
of dark forms 
yearning upwards. 
And since we will be 
horizontal ourselves 
for so long, 
let us now honor 
the gods 
of the vertical: 
stalks of wheat 
which to the ant 
must seem as high 
as these trees do to us, 
silos and 
telephone poles, 
and skyscrapers.

Tara is hosting the Poetry Friday roundup at Going to Walden. When I saw that she had a poem by Linda Pastan, I decided to share one by Pastan, too! 


  1. "...horizontal ourselves for so long..." such a phrase for this time of year with its short days and yearning for sleep so early every evening. I find myself stretching toward March and blooms and longer days.

  2. I love all the Pastans in the round-up this week! (I actually heard from her in 2011 -- she gave me permission to post a poem of hers. I cherish that email!)

  3. Horizontal with a cup of something hot and a good book is all I wish to be this time of year. Love this poem.

  4. How serendipitous! I shared a Pastan poem this week as well. She captures the grief of knowing that our time is too short in so many of her poems. I love how she loves the world and everything in it. Beautiful selection for today. I will notice all the trees on my way to school this morning.

  5. Ooh, that's so lovely. Thanks for sharing.

  6. I'm reading this poem and looking out into the woods seeing Pastan's words come to life, Mary Lee.

  7. Thanks for sharing this new-to-me poem. Lovely!

  8. Oh wow. Definitely hitting the library for her books.

  9. I love the book, Traveling Light, that this poem comes from and these lines in particular because they show that Pastan really KNOWS trees.

    but most of all
    these winter oaks,
    these soft-fleshed poplars,
    this birch
    whose bark is like
    roughened skin
    against which I lean
    my chilled head,

  10. I do have such an abiding love of trees, I love the idea of them being revealed to us every winter, with their covering of leaves removed, so that we can fully appreciate their wonder.

  11. I needed to stop and think about perspectives on this Friday night - the world is bigger, look up, and see things differently in a new season. Thank you friend.

  12. I love Linda Pastan but this one is new to me. Thank you!

  13. Linda Pastan practices the art of noticing nature and listening for the lessons there. Thanks.

  14. Beautiful image and poem Mary Lee. I like the image you gave us, I don't think it's winter there and I wouldn't mind stepping in between the textural columns of trees. These are grand old souls that keep us in our place, thanks!

  15. I haven't read this one before, and it's a good one. Thanks!

  16. Oh my goodness. Three Pastan's thus far! I'm going to have to explore her work further. I was just admiring some of our stunning Eastern White Pines that were certainly "yearning upwards." Thanks for sharing this beauty. -- Christie @

  17. I love the opening lines of this poem.It's been so interesting to read three Pastan poems this week. Another poet for me to explore.

  18. Thank you for sharing this wise, beautiful poem, Mary Lee. I've often thought of how brave trees are to stand, for months on end, tall and bare for all the world to see.

  19. I am so excited to read multiple Pashtan poems this week. She is new to me, but I can't wait to read more. This tree one might be my favorite. I love looking up at the trees any time, but especially winter.

  20. I'm thinking that there's a turning toward Pastan because she's an heir to Mary Oliver. I read two MO poems at my congregation this morning, one of which was

    When I Am Among the Trees

    When I am among the trees,
    especially the willows and the honey locust,
    equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
    they give off such hints of gladness.
    I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

    I am so distant from the hope of myself,
    in which I have goodness, and discernment,
    and never hurry through the world
    but walk slowly, and bow often.

    Around me the trees stir in their leaves
    and call out, “Stay awhile.”
    The light flows from their branches.

    And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
    “and you too have come
    into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
    with light, and to shine.”

    Look at that! Gorgeously, effortlessly vertical.

  21. Thanks for sharing this. I now have a new poet to love. The imagery of verticality is lovely and so true.


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