The tree is an arbiter that
aims to leave but lives to claim.
It runs the tab of a die-hard drinker,

stretching as it sinks; inflamed to the south
and slippered to the north it bears down,
bursts forth—quietly equipped for its own fires

with its own dampers; by the years befriended but by quick of day
or season's sawing reasonably unhampered...
From the rock at its root it shoots

a stem of stars.


The animal, part dream, part
stream of fur, has swum in space and time,

liquid and air; by sound and smell
appraising earth, he pours back
every moment he aims forth...

From the pebble of his nose
through the flowing ears
go rivulets of fur,
to there design a spine
and flail a tail... What does he see, that makes him

swim so far into the future? Something
in a tree.

Heather McHugh's new book, Upgraded to Serious, comes out this week from Copper Canyon Press. She won a Stranger Genius Award in 2007 and a MacArthur last week.

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