E·ratio 11 · 2008



E·ratio 11 · 2008




C’EST and Word Tree


  by Patrick Lawler








Say: jaguar.  Say: snow.



Say: water lily.

Say: sunflower.






A poem is not a mirror held up to a street or whatever.  Say: It is a jagged piece of glass—shattered, swallowed.  Say: marsh.  Say: delta.  Say: lightning.  Say: frog.  Say: A poem is not a window.  Say: A poem is a door you must walk through.




Say: oak.  Say: moss.


       Say: pike.

     Say: swallow.



Say: say.

Say: It is










Word Tree


“Everything is going to have to be put back.”

                                 —W.S. Merwin



After I built a house around a fire, I built a forest around a tree.  Everything is layered: time layered into space: place layered with events: books layered with the brain.  I was in the middle of my life though really closer to the end.  I once knew a woman who talked to trees.  When she placed her hand on a stump, she felt the heat.  “That’s the way trees scream.”  I wonder at the crystal breakage of forests after ice storms.  The tree is alive with current.  The past hidden inside.  I am mindful of the facts; I am bodyful of the imagination.  I remember what they used to say: Reach for the scars.                   You must always take into account the heart is a drunk, so you have to give it what it wants.  In the fresco of trees, there is a sheen of light on the leaves.  Hope bruises the heart—comes out the forehead.  Fall is lumpy.  Oh, we have sung a malignant litany.  My students understand why we have to hide what we have done.  Always we are in a different world than we think we are.  Walk with the feet of a tree; think with the brain of a tree; breathe with the lung of a tree.  There must be a drop of death in the sap.  The great forests are ashes.  The garden is inebriated with itself, stumbling from blossom to blossom.  Christ is in the branches; Tarot’s hanging man is in the tree.  Whitman’s trees are committing suicide—nature replaced by nation.  Crushed.  We've got a lot of stuff that needs to be hidden.  In a way I'm glad we don't have a science that could tell us what fish think—what sawdust feels.  I imagine it would be terrible.  Maybe there will be a meriactic miracle where the top becomes the bottom and the bottom becomes the top.  Root becomes branch.  Bud becomes seed.  Until then we will have to be careful. There will be disappointed travelers arriving at an inner forest.  Representatives from an absurd reality.  Dawn incinerates us.  The tree is hiding in the forest.  The end: there is no end to it.  The tragedy would be to not recognize there is hope.  As always we are becoming seeds.  Listen: One day I expect to dance like a tree.







Patrick Lawler has published three books of poetry: A Drowning Man is Never Tall Enough (University of Georgia Press), (reading a burning book) (Basfal Books), and Feeding the Fear of the Earth, the winner of the Many Mountains Moving poetry book competition.

E · Poetry Journal