The Elm Tree

Jennifer Grotz

I look up, and there it is, a Gothic bloom, frozen explosion
sharp against the sky. It’s going to come down, but the poem

happens just before that. The poem loves the moment just before,
like the sculptor loved David, twisted with his loaded slingshot.

What will be flung are shards of shattered windowpane,
as if the stars had fallen and asked we pick them from our hair.

Last night the sky turned the color of thinning smoke
and rain came fierce upon the roofs like urgent voices

calling to the tiny wet dresses of the leaves. I look up:
a hundred-year-old elm can bear an enormous amount,

but it’s the saturated ground that will fail. The poem knows
every moment holds more meaning than can be expressed,

pauses here to consider. After it falls, which it is just about to do,
there will be no music, no whistle through wet branches, no wind

flinging its heavy velvet cloth. And the poem will be finished.
What is a poem, then? It’s a question, a very attentive form of waiting:

if only death is certain, says the poem, but
the moment of death is uncertain, then what should you do?

Read more poems from Summer 2013 by downloading the free Amazon digest version of The Kenyon Review here.

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