What Poetry Does
30 December 2010
I called the tree a butternut (which I don’t think
it is) so I could talk about how different
the trees are around me here in the rain.
It reminds me how mutable language is. Keats
would leave blank spaces in his drafts to hold on
to his passion, spaces for the right words to come.
We use them sideways. The way we automatically
add bits of shape to hold on to the dissolving dreams.
So many of the words are for meanwhile. We say,
“I love you” while we search for language
that can be heard. Which allows us to talk
about how the aspens over there tremble
in the smallest shower, while the tree over by
the window here gathers the raindrops and lets them
go in bunches. The way my heart carols sometimes,
and other times yearns. Sometimes is quiet
and other times is powerfully quiet.
-“The Butternut Tree at Fort Juniper” by Jack Gilbert