Bio Note: I live in Mays Landing near the New Jersey shore. My three most recent books are Still-Water Days, A Prayer the Body Makes (Kelsay Books / Aldrich Press, 2021;2020); and The Resonance Around Us (Mountains and Rivers Press, 2013). Tomorrow may bring the first snow flurries here in Southern NJ, and the holidays are upon us, bringing both nostalgia and joy, as reflected in the following poem.
The Solitary Birch
The solitary birch in the center of the greening field by the train tracks stretches slender bare limbs skyward as if it were a woman transformed after forbidden union with a god— rooted there forever. Over time, she will forget having been mortal, will forget her longing for the family of tree, will learn to expect nothing more than the budding of new leaves, the heat of summer sun, the autumn winds of quivering gold, and winter’s letting go. On the horizon ancient ones watch her—mountains purple in the coming dusk. At field’s edge, a stream disappears into the undergrowth, carrying last light toward the darkening center of an old growth woods. Now the train we are on carries us into the landscape of night, whistling past flashing red lights at the crossings. The birch is long gone, yet it lingers glimmering white as bone, learning to expect nothing, not even itself.
First published in A Prayer the Body Makes (Kelsay Books, 2020)
©2022 Penny Harter
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