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Suddenly the trees have arms.
They bare all. So many nests
cleave to branches that twigs
and leaves weave baskets of sky.
Nothing spared is winter’s motto.
Even dead trees open doors
for more than I can tell,
their hollows full of paws
or wings quieted by dark.
Wind gusts whisper bare
tree stories branch to branch
to me. That’s what I imagine.
Riven woods make room
for hushed things biding time
and breathing. Fur and feathers rise
and fall. I see one shy eye
which opens me. I think the rings
in trees are promises I’ll keep
when winter comes, burying
all with that cold clench of doubt,
that such testament is now mine.


Elinor Ann Walker teaches writing online at the University of Maryland-University College. She’s published scholarly work but considers herself a recovering academic. Her poems (also under “Ann Walker Phillips”) have appeared in Poet Lore, The Christian Science Monitor, Cicada, Rosebud, Mezzo Cammin, Soundzine, and in the anthology Stone Renga. She lives in Tennessee with four dogs and her family and spends as much time as possible by her pond.

© 2018, Elinor Ann Walker

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