I have been contacting a few of the poets with poems published in the book Tree Magic, Nature’s Antennas, and getting permission to use their poetry in this blog. Poets who like each others poems are already friends! I love how art that is public fosters connection and dialogue. My friend and colleague Perie Longo and I have written an article about this called The Therapeutic Benefit of Poetry published in The Therapist and another article called Poetic Dialogue published in The Journal of Poetry Therapy. My hope is to continue using writing about trees as a focus of poetic discussion, ideas for writing, and the healing that comes from hanging out with poetry.
My first poem in this series is Harvest by Gail Golden.
Gail Kadison Golden
The sign said: ‘Pick your own apples’,
and I, heavy with a child as yet unharvested,
came into the orchard, impelled, as if
the sign were a mandate.
The trees and I, clumsy with ripe fruit.
weary beneath a dying autumn sun,
knew each other, sang but one song–
sang, ‘This is precious beyond all reckoning,
this moment before the harvest.
I seize it, breathe it, elongate the seconds,
this last moment in which I am
both the tree and the fruit.
I am all, all of it.
It is all of me.’
To let it go, to let it fall away from me,
becoming other, is like a dream,
as it is a dream in February,
to hold a winter apple,
and remember that it comes from trees.
From the CD: Tree Magic: Nature’s Antennas, SunShine Press Publications, Longmont, CO, 2004
Printed with permission of the author.
In poetry therapy we read poems out loud and then talk about what we liked in them, what they might mean to us, knowing that poems usually have multiple meanings. We look for language, phrases, images, and word-music we like that might become a jumping off point for our own writing.
What I love about Harvest is the connection between a mother ripe with a baby, and a tree heavy with apples. We can picture this mother coming to pick apples in the autumn as she is preparing to have her child. I love the following words and phrases: the child as yet unharvested, the dying autumn sun, elongate the seconds, the last moment in which I am/both the tree and the fruit, and to let it fall away from me,/becoming other, is like a dream, (what an amazing way to describe childbirth!) I picture the mother with her new baby holding the winter apple, feeling the sense of wonder about how things are born.
The art of writing poetry is starting to write about a tree and letting the poem take you in whatever direction it wants to go. Perhaps the poet started with the memory of this apple picking while pregnant scene and let the writing intertwine the woman and the tree, the baby and the fruit. The idea is to let the poem move where it wants to, not forcing your writing to go where you think it should.
If you were to use this poem as inspiration, you could take a line or phrase from the poem and use it in your writing, at the beginning or embedded into your writing. Or you could write about things that are pregnant and see where that takes you. Or you could start with a tree laden with apples or a tree laden with pomegranates. Maybe you would start with the tree in your neighborhood that is leafless but filled with the flames of ripe persimmons. Or a story about what happened the day you took a walk and discovered that tree when you first moved to California and realized that persimmons grew on trees. See where your writing takes you.