Martha Rhodes

February 25, 2022 Rhodes Martha



I have visited an ancient redwood and heard it creak
as I’ve rested my cheek and ear against its trunk. It has received
my deepest sobs and my hundreds of fingerings along its soft bark.
Leaning into it, I have whispered to my most darling ones—
Mother, Lucy, my multi colored cats—as if they’ve coursed through
the tree’s vascular system to form an inner pool— their happy noise
so audible! I have stopped at the tree for hours over years,
in the shadow of Mt. Tam, and I have napped, at tree’s base,
inebriated, by the moldy brew of its memories, boiled up
to commingle with the mist of my breathings
of nose, mouth and cells so that I must slow, resist
rushing past, to recall the paddings of creatures
before me as well as my own over years. I always like to pretend
the tree has fashioned a thick fresh bed of fallen needles especially
for me. Today, as I walk the loop around Bon Tempe Lake,
I hear the loud and familiar hello from the tree –
its creak long, bent-like and old. I know the tree has ushered me back
to remind me that it has—in particular— missed me.
The tree wants to know where I’ve been these past eleven years,
and where I wish to go, and where I think I will go.

Martha Rhodes is the author of five poetry collections, most recently “The Thin Wall.” She is a member of the faculty of the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College and is the publisher of Four Way Books. She lives in New York City.