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Do you write a poem?

Building a tree

In the forest I search the ground

looking for something small to bring back

maybe a rock or a seed or a bone.

Above, the trees make shapes against a gray sky

their branches are drawing in lines overhead

They capture only half the wind and shield the rain.

Who visits there? a squirrel, a bird?

Here you walk between the trees

where branches have fallen

pods have dropped

and the ground is soft and braced by sticks from last year

and the year before, and so on.

How deep are their roots?

It is rare to go up to a tree and touch it.

It’s always so rough, too hard, very cold.

No one is there, just the tree.

How heavy is a tree?

I am reading their palms made of leaves.

They breath and sometimes tell time

and have small stiff sails against the wind.

How do they know when to fall?

You cannot count the number of animals in the forest.

There are deer and rabbits, and sometimes a turtle.

Foxes, opossums, and bears come and go at night

though you would hardly know it.

They weave through trees and foliage using their noses

and leave tracks if there’s snow.

Where are their homes?

On the ground are remnants of everything that has gone before.

Deep layers of all of the trees and their parts

that have dropped, died, decayed.

Maybe there is something small to bring back.

I have found a leaf, and another leaf, and a stick.

You cannot build a tree

The tree builds you.

— Julia Paul


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