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Borrow-a-Line Poetry

8 October 2010

This week’s prompt at Big Tent Poetry was to use a line from another poem to jump-start a poem of your own. The line I chose was “a tree trying to shake off the past” from Debora Greger’s poem “Eve in the Fall,” which I read in Best American Poetry 2009 but was originally published in The New Criterion. I’ve written two poemy-things, both of which I will try to coax into whole poems. Probably only one will survive.

A tree trying to shake off the past
as if it could shed memories like fallen
leaves each autumn, as if it could
renew itself each spring with fresh buds.

Were I a deciduous, an oak perhaps,
I’d drop my leaves forlornly,
regretful to be giving up
a part of myself.

Apple trees have the most to lose,
and also the most to give.
These are trees that have learned
the value of sharing.

And the old evergreens,
the wise elders, the only trees
who cannot claim to have lived
through years of changes,

their green needles
and brown pine cones
an ever-ready vivacity
reserved for this family.


A tree trying to shake off the past
like a dog shakes off water:
Twisting at the trunk,
leaves flopping first one way,
then the other, the past flicking
off like water droplets from the dog’s fur.

Little does the tree know that
with the past goes momentum.
If the tree wants to keep growing,
it needs to keep its past etched
into its bark, traced in the veins
of its golden leaves, buried
in the soil with its roots.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 8 October 2010 05:00

    I really enjoy the bit about the apple tree. It reminds me of “‘The Giving Tree”.

  2. 9 October 2010 12:30

    Lovely – I imagine each of them will grow into poems (although I think they already are.)

  3. 10 October 2010 08:01

    Both poems are good – ready to make an appearance somewhere. I like poems about trees, I like trees, especially this time of year

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