Friday, January 18, 2013

Joshua Tree

I tried once to write about a Joshua Tree,
How it scrubs the desert air with many arms,
But I who live among the Oak and Maple,
Beside the Poplar, alongside Willow sweeps,
With Fir and under reaching Pine,
Who watch the Tamarack coat the earth
With tiny golden combs, who wait
For Redbud signs of spring,
Whose Serviceberry, Apple, Pear, and Plum
Make drunk the bees, sate the birds,
Then drowse in lazy autumn,
I could not find the term for that
Flintstone desert plant.
I could perhaps try crayon,
Pale yellow, black, some green,
Not this pack of forty-eight,
Not these fat words I wrap my hands around,
Not Sweetgum. Cottonwood. Persimmon.
Not Deciduous. Majestic. Not this ever ever green.


  1. ha. nice...well built, i like all the tree refs....describing what it is not you pay reverence to it...and i like the thought of using crayon...smiles.

  2. Beautifully done. I want to look up Joshua Tree now and learn more. I saw it for the first time ten years ago and never dis that.

  3. I Love this! I saw Joshua Trees in my one visit/drive dowm into the desert from SF, and immediately wanted to write about it, talk to it, see as it saw. But didn't. This poem speaks to its foreignness and its draw. Great!

  4. You conjure well, this Joshua Tree...I love the way you play with color and this line, "Not these fat words I wrap my hands around," that you can't quite grasp it but in not grasping it is gathered in perfectly. Love:"persimmon" and "Flintstone desert plant," great descriptions.

    Thank you for joining Real Toads TF!!

  5. Oh I so love this poem, with all of its fat succulent descriptive words and names of other trees. Just a fabulous read!!!!!!

  6. I'm sorry I've been away for so long. Reading your work makes me want to work harder. This is such a tactile, sense-full piece. Amazing.

  7. I like it, like it just escalates in each word until the end.

  8. I loved the direction you took in this poem. The admission, the contrast of habitats, the fat crayons... it is all so well-crafted.

  9. Thank, everyone. I've felt as dry as that desert lately, so I am grateful to Real Toads for reminding me about the Joshua tree with their Friday prompt.

    One thing I love -- .maybe the thing I love most -- about my home is the variety of trees and the ever-changing scape of golden green, full bloom, berry and bounty, changing colors, falling leaves, and barren branches. The contrasts of evergreen and black branch against the winter sky lifts me !

  10. Wonderful tree-filled poem. I've seen the Joshua tree many times but have never tried to write about it. I can see now, through your poem, why it defied description by a native of the coastal Pacific Northwest. Thanks for this!

  11. I googled the image. "Scrubs the air with many arms" is perfect. It is quite foreign to me as well...

  12. This is lovely..specially the colors and terse images of the last 4 lines ~ Well penned ~

  13. I've been near Joshua Trees all my life, yet never tire of their unique starkness, their unparalleled sturdiness. You rightly honor them here.

  14. It really, really is fabulous! Thank you so much for writing this and sharing it!

  15. I've been a terrible commenter lately, Karen, but know that I've read and admired every single line you've posted in the last several months. Your facility with words and rhythm--and that particular quality of effortlessness you conjure--has only grown sharper over time. I'm in absolute awe of your loveliness.

    I love this poem. How something so alien and mysterious cannot be described, but somehow--through contrast and futility--IS, all the same.

  16. Thanks to each of you who comments.

    The "problem" with blogging is that I want to answer everyone, visit your sites, comment there, and still have time to write and function in the real world. I get up earlier and earlier, but still there aren't enough hours to do all I want and need to do. Please know, though, that I truly do appreciate your comments.