There was an apple tree in the yard –

this would have been

forty years ago – behind,

only meadows.  Drifts

of crocus in the damp grass.

I stood at that window:

late April.  Spring

flowers in the neighbor’s yard.

How many times, really, did the tree

flower on my birthday,

the exact day, not

before, not after? Substitution

of the immutable

for the shifting, the evolving.

Substitution of the image

for relentless earth.  What

I do know of this place,

the role of the tree for decades

taken by a bonsai, voices

rising from the tennis courts –

Fields.  Smell of the tall grass, new cut.

As one expects of a lyric poet.

We look at the world once, in childhood.

The rest is memory.


Louise Gluck


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