It’s Postcard Month

treesAugust is poetry postcard month, and though I’ve resisted the temptation for a few years, this year I’m back at it, thanks to timely pressure from my friend Carla.  Here are my excuses.

1. I’m teaching a class this summer.
2. I’m busy with my daughters in the summer and any semblance of a routine is blown.
3. I’m rewriting my novel … still.
4. I’m TAKING a class (which sounds like madness, but more about this in a later post).

Carla didn’t argue, she just kept sending me little email reminders until, in a weak moment, I sent my name and address into the organizing forces. And I got about 300 names and addresses back! (I have to send to only the 31 below my name.) I went through my office and pulled together postcards from trips and a bunch of special photographs (with a large index card taped to the back, photographs make great postcards). I put a couple of poetry books and a bunch of 33 cent stamps in a folder. Pens. Etc. And I was ready to travel.

Some years ago, of course, this practice fit smoothly into my “one bad poem” practice. This year, with a new book out, I’ve been more or less resting on my laurels and not writing new poems. (I’ve been busy, okay?) The first few postcards I sent out were pretty lame. But I’ve gathered momentum as the month rolls along. As I’ve learned and relearned throughout my writing life, doing a little relevant reading, and sitting and staring at a blank page with a pen in my hand turns — eventually — into writing.

Here’s the poem I drafted yesterday. I make no claims for it, but I like it. This version was too long to fit on the postcard, by the way.

Imagine the trees are knowing,
not in the conjugal sense,
but sentient, beings as aware of pain,
of love, of longing as you
or me. When I was a horse-crazy girl
I was told that horses don’t feel pain
the way humans do. Then, a mother
of infants, I was told not to worry,
The baby doesn’t feel it the way we do.
I never believed such tripe,
perpetuated by people numb
in their own ignorance. Place your hand
against the trunk of a maple,
or run your finger down the map
of a big cedar. I’m not asking you
to become a tree-hugger like me,
just your hand. Just stand there.
Of course the tree feels.
Believe that the sap is equal to —
greater than — your own tears.
Ask yourself, What am I feeling?


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