Deborah Keenan, “A Tree Is Not a Human Thing”

A tree is not a human thing, with its feet
In the ground and its back hard against the sky;
It cannot tolerate the small human tendernesses

Moving beneath…

She could see that Shirley Jackson understood.
As one of the guardians, she inspired and oppressed
At the same moment. She became, that summer, another kind

Of hot wind pushing the days forward.

From Willow Room, Green Door: New and Selected Poems, which also contains the Pushcat Prize-winning “August, No Rain.” This particular poem is from the first section of the book, also called “Willow Room, Green Door,” which Keenan regards as one long poem from the summer of 2005.

I wish I could elaborate on the Shirley Jackson allusion, but I confess I’m not well-read enough to place it, and Google offers no help. If you recognize it, please feel free to email me.

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16 November 2007 | poetry |