Monday, December 10, 2012

Tuesday Poem - In The Voice Of A Tree by Michelle Leber

for Georgina King (1845-1932)

Do not marry if you wish to develop your talent
                                                          George Bennett

Her warm curve on my spine―
it’s like this each day. She’s reading
with her little sighs, pressing a book
to her hillocks, as if absorbing my ancestors
by way of brooding osmosis.
No one knows what she reads.

Some days she writes letters,
packing faultless flowers between paper
and lets the laughing dove take them
across meadows, over mountains,
to enter Mueller’s chamber as he sits
with Termination Lake specimens
in the drafty acreage of his esteem. 
No one knows what he reads.

A dandelion seed has taken sentry
in her hair. For the view. For companionship.
Ants devising better ways to reach honey,
by-pass the flighty blooms of her sleeve
that puff like batwings onto her page.
No one knows what she reads.

If I could, I’d insist she reconcile
her natural beauty. When her head
turns to a bee, rises on its tower to meet
with clouds, she is more than kindred:
how shall we commune, together admire
our mandate with petalite, tuff beds, fern allies.
I am bending my branches.
No one knows what she reads.

Note: First published in a different form by Westerly 57.2: Nov 2012 

Michelle Leber lives in Melbourne and is writing a series of poems about women naturalists. Each one I come across, either in journals, or when she reads them to us at various poetry events around town, or when she tables one at a monthly workshop at my place, I am entranced by their delicacy and pungency and cogency.