It makes such a resonant conjunction of different places and times! Crannóg is published in Galway, Ireland, yet this is a praise poem to the trees of northern California, and starts out with an American kid’s baseball memory. It’s the March issue of Crannóg (it was to have been launched at the Crane Bar in Galway on March 2nd, but for the storm) – which means that my birthday approaches, along with that of my Irish step-grandfather, gone now. And birthdays seem increasingly connected with leaf fall, yet the poem is filled with memories of childhood.
“Unleaving” is one of my most personal poems and one I love to read aloud. The title is a reference to Hopkins’ poem “Spring and Fall,” which begins: “Márgarét, áre you gríeving / Over Goldengrove unleaving?”
Years and years I’ve come to you like this –
sliding in to touch base, dirt in my teeth.
Years and years I’ve leaned against you,
Green skin, sap-stuck, fissured
as mine is now. You wore willow
and I climbed up weeping.
You put on god tree when I needed gods.
Still, it’s strange to find you waiting,
back here where we began. Years and years
round to the smell of dust and tannin –
as if this life I’ve made so much of
were nothing but a squirrel’s flimflam.
Once I fell through a vortex of spinning
aspen leaves. It’s taken me a lifetime
to know the place for home.