Seven years, seven circles, I’ve watched the maples
in their swampy ground behind my house,
limb by limb, grow bare of leaves

and yet not die: as if to prove
some inverse law of diminishment,
they flower and fruit and spin

into the wind a locust-swarm
of double-winged seeds, more prodigal
each June even as the higher boughs

resound beneath the flickers’ hammering,
but today the trees are swaying, restive as mourners
locked inside a half-life of regret,

bleeding like Dante’s grove of suicides—
where a poet snapping a branch can mistake
for pity the silence seeping through his bones.

Richard Foerster

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 11 Number 6, on page 46
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