Elaine Sexton

Copper Beech
December 19, 2016 Sexton Elaine

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’s most recent collection of poetry is Prospect/Refuge (Sheep Meadow Press). Her poems, reviews, and essays have appeared widely in journals including American Poetry Review, Art in America, Five Points, Oprah Magazine, Pleiades, Poetry, and  Poetry Daily. She teaches poetry at the Sarah Lawrence College Writing Institute, and has been guest faculty at numerous colleges and writing and art programs in the U.S. and abroad, including New York University, Poets House, and Arts Workshop International. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle, and serves as the visual arts editor for Tupelo Quarterly.