Thursday, July 06, 2006

American Life in Poetry: Column 066


Some of the most telling poetry being written in our country today has to do with the smallest and briefest of pleasures. Here Marie Howe of New York captures a magical moment: sitting in the shelter of a leafy tree with the rain falling all around.

The Copper Beech

Immense, entirely itself,
it wore that yard like a dress,

with limbs low enough for me to enter it
and climb the crooked ladder to where

I could lean against the trunk and practice being alone.
One day, I heard the sound before I saw it, rain fell
darkening the sidewalk.

Sitting close to the center, not very high in the branches,
I heard it hitting the high leaves, and I was happy,

watching it happen without it happening to me.

Reprinted from "What the Living Do," W. W. Norton & Co., 1997. Copyright (c) 1997 by Marie Howe. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. For information on permissions and usage, or to download a PDF version of the column, visit

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