Copper Beech

Because it had been, quite literally,
four decades since I last climbed a tree
I stood a long while watching you
overhead. Your elbows disappeared
in the sheets of plum-colored leaves,
so dark and cool in the heat. I pressed
my face against the bark, I patted
your dog’s snout – lost – my body touching
the idea of leaving earth. I wrapped
my arms around a trunk wider than
my own, growth and decay in my mouth.
I kissed the twins, fear and ecstasy,
my feet, by now, where my shoulders
once were. My fingers reached
for the sole of your shoe. A blanket of
green held me in its arms, the backs
of those leaves I had seen from the ground.


Elaine Sexton is a poet, critic, and educator. Her most recent collection of poetry is Prospect/Refuge (Sheep Meadow Press, 2015). Her work has appeared in print and online, in publications that include: American Poetry Review, Art in America, Poetry, O! the Oprah Magazine, and Poetry Daily. A member of the National Book Critics Circle, she teaches text & image and poetry at Sarah Lawrence College, New York University, and at various arts and writing centers.

Issue #66 January 2017
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