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This week, a poem by Anne Brink.
A Tree Is
What genre is a tree.
A tree is just happening, no noun for it.
Always beating its head against a facade.
It has nothing to say, it is
already saying it.
It will never be popular to be a tree again.
Tree with all its walls
burned down, naked, no friend.
A tree is difficult to hide in bed.
We can drink wine all night together.
A tree is textbook language
for 370 million years of trees
stacked trunk to trunk
in the Bodeleian Library.
No one would ever say a tree is made
out of bad materials, even pre-Shakespeare.
A tree is not a democratic multiple
like a mail order catalogue. It is
never thinking of composition.
A tree is a rare institution
being run correctly. It is
an orchestra, most likely
a violin spider. It has poems
written under its skin in cursive
and weaves clear fistfuls of food.
A tree is an addictive quality
in its anonymity. Do not nail the painting
of the tree to its bark or post
any flyer on it. A tree is
insidiously narcissistic and
Would you live another 100 years?
I asked the tree. Yes, but if I had to
survive what I survived for the past 100 years
the tree answered no.
ANNE BRINK is a teaching fellow in the undergraduate creative writing department at Columbia University. She lives in New York City.