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These thin white lines
that rise between
the oaks and pines,
their larger green,

that split the dark
alone, in rows,
the glowing bark,
these tapering windows

that reach in slim
occasional grace
through the dense and dim,
each lighted place

like the churches here
and there in town,
these birches, prayers
against the unknown.


Elise Hempel’s poems have appeared in numerous journals over the years, including Poetry, Measure, Southern Poetry Review, Tar River Poetry, and The Midwest Quarterly, as well as in Poetry Daily and Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry. Her full-length collection of poems, Second Rain, was published by Able Muse Press in 2016. She lives in central Illinois.

© 2019, Elise Hempel

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