To a Further Blossoming

Along a narrow uneven trail in a clearing
above a school, I heard in a creak a human cry.
The tree was dead. A dead oak tree with a hollow
halfway up, places where the rough gray bark
looked eaten away, other places raw, lichen pale, spongy
and bare. With broken limbs drawn upward.
From a distance in the late light, it looked like
a jaggedly splayed, coal-colored bouquet
against the sky. A haunted, haunting thing.
But up close, its pulp felt soft as velvet in my hand.
It wasn’t so much a cry as a sigh that someone
had come to see into its deepened space
what was not done blossoming. The crumble
of its rain-soaked, drying wood had a milky-caramel
hue, while the black gash in its chest
made it humble as my father with his open
wound I had to dress for months before he died.
Somehow, he appeared to belong then, not to any earth
but past some distant peak or star, reaching
where he had not yet learned—My teacher,
you’ve been sculpted by the wind as much as by
the night and windless unseen light that opens us within.
And here you take me into your empty arms.

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About the Author

Barbara Siegel Carlson's third collection of poems What Drifted Here was published by Cherry Grove Collections in 2023. Her previous books are Once in Every Language (Kelsay Books 2017) and Fire Road (Dream Horse Press 2013). A chapbook Between the Hours was published in 2022. She is the co-translator of Look Back, Look Ahead, Selected Poems of Srečko Kosovel and co-editor of A Bridge of Voices: Contemporary Slovene Poetry and Perspectives. Carlson is a Poetry in Translation Editor of Solstice. She teaches in Boston and lives in Carver, Massachusetts.

Barbara Siegel Carlson
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