Poetry Friday: Love Poems to Trees

To every year the trees grew without us noticing.
Hannah Marshall

In the introduction to  The Best American Poetry 2021, Tracy K. Smith states that “the best poems of 2020 reached me as offerings of desperately needed hope and endurance.” She goes on to say that “the best poetry to emerge during a bitter year sprang from whatever else was indispensable to sustenance, peace of mind, justice, and healing at the time.”

Indispensable to sustenance.

That we are still in search of “desperately needed hope and endurance” is enough to drive one to despair. And yet.

One of the poems included in this year’s collection is “This Is a Love Poem to Trees,” by Hannah Marshall. I couldn’t find Marshall’s poem online, but I encourage you to seek it out. Trees have sustained me in countless ways, not just over the past twenty months, but throughout my entire life. Here are two haiku, love songs to two of my favorite trees.

late afternoon light
leaves dappled amber and gold
sips of sustenance

crowned in green cumulus puffs,
maple bears witness
the world barrels past

Maple in my childhood neighbor’s yard, as seen from the end of our driveway.

Draft © Catherine Flynn, 2021

Please be sure to visit Irene Latham at Live Your Poem for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

12 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Love Poems to Trees

  1. Oh, the sweet sustenance of trees. These are lovely, Catherine, with such precise evocative word choices throughout. Using “bears” and “barrels” in your second poem was inspired on so many levels. Combining that poem with a childhood photo adds to its impact.

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  2. I spent a good deal of my childhood up in a special tree, even reading! I visit it now when I go back to Missouri, back to the little town of my early years. And I think what cinched the purchase of the place I now live is the ancient cottonwood out my side door. I love these words at your post’s beginning, Catherine: “To every year the trees grew without us noticing.” – we need to notice! And those “sips of sustenance” do help. And I love seeing ‘your’ tree! Have a lovely weekend!

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  3. Such a wonderful tree bearing witness as the world barrels past! Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

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  4. I was drawn to your post Catherine, having recently paid homage to trees myself. I like the way you refer to the constancy of trees in a fast moving world. They are a steady influence, a reminder to stop and appreciate.

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  5. “sips of sustenance” — Yes!

    And that second one…there is a huge sycamore that stands right next to a busy street, right next to a busy intersection, and I often send it encouraging vibes to stay alive, to send its roots far beneath all the pavement for nourishment, and I wonder at all it’s witnessed (and I’m not just talking about traffic!!).

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