Ars poetica

Ars poetica | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Weeping Tree, Vincent van Gogh, 1889. Courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago.

& the trees gleam wetly under the luminous clouds

& through a water-ribboned window a child draws pictures

& the child draws the man as a winter tree with the moon above

& draws the moon as hollow

& hollow describes everything we ever loved

& boats houses hearts coffins graves ourselves each other

& the trees must feast on the fallen

& turn sunlight into children

& we are 99% tree

& our children are composed and grown in the dark

& the man is therefore only 1% moon

& the worshipful company of parish clerks counts the dead

& 220 from suddenly

& the moon perches on the tree’s fragile stalk

& one from bedridden

& the moon causes lunacy

& 218 from that

& the man has small hollow moons for eyes

& a falling leaf instead of a smile

& twigs instead of fingers

& the child draws the spiked inscrutable sun

& it’s going down

& only 17 from grief

Leslie Harrison is the author of The Book of Endings, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland.
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