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Sequoia Sempervirens
Tamara Madison


Some of these trees have been here
since Jesus walked on water
Some of these trees have been here
since Vikings drove their boats
onto the shores of Newfoundland
Some of these trees were seedlings
while the Mayans were worshiping time
while the dire wolf and saber-toothed
tiger roamed North America
Some of these trees have survived
lightning strikes and forest fires
Some of these trees house creatures
of the forest floor in burned-out caves
at the base of their ruddy trunks
Some of these trees have become
living pipes, chimneys, hollowed out
by fire.  They have grown beyond
their trauma and focus now
on the daily climb, the adding-on
of needle and bark, on nature’s drive
to rise above and see beyond
until the day when death will fell them
and the earth will add them to its riches.
We can be like these trees, pull on
the layers of living like fine
new garments, house the needy
in the caverns of our grief, grow
beyond the stories of our scars
stretch our branches toward
the bristling stars.

From Wild Domestic (Pearl Editions, 2011).
Used here with the author’s permission.


Tamara Madison teaches English and French at a public high school in Los Angeles. Raised on a citrus farm in the California desert, Tamara’s life has taken her many places, including Europe and the former Soviet Union, where she spent 15 months in the 1970s. A swimmer and dog lover, Tamara says, "All I ever wanted to do with my life was write, and I mostly write poetry because it suits my lifestyle; I like the way one can say so much in the economical space of a poem."



Post New Comment:
A beautiful poem about our close kinship with trees and how we can learn from them.
Posted 04/25/2014 08:40 PM
Yes, "stretch our branches toward the bristling stars". Great!
Posted 04/25/2014 02:27 PM
One of my many blessings is to walk under Redwoods almost every day with Ava and I will now think of this wonderful poem when I do. Thank you.
Posted 04/25/2014 08:44 AM
Larry Schug:
The perfect poem to begin a new day.
Posted 04/25/2014 07:22 AM
a lovely lesson to learn
Posted 04/25/2014 07:22 AM
Posted 04/25/2014 06:16 AM
I have- over the years - had so much pleasure from so many amazing trees that your poem was an absolute delight. Thank you.
Posted 04/25/2014 04:25 AM

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