Gillian Sze

And you are ever again the wave
sweeping through all things.
 --Rilke (II.3)

In a single gust, it seems, 
the leaves yellow
and one evening, I find the maple bare,
the last of summer burnished.
The trees know no vanity.
I walk around a manmade lake 
and tell my son
that the birch kept growing
just to meet him.
Pay attention, the boughs sigh.
It is against trees that I measure
the dawning of his life
as an arc of a single ring.

An ocean over, 
a mulberry tree stands in the same spot
as it did twelve hundred years ago,
for the most part ignored
until everything around it was replaced
with stones and gods,
and someone ran a hand over its surface,
recognized patience, vast and slow.

Somewhere, as it's done each fall,
a moose rubs its antlers among the trees,
branch against branch.
My son wonders up 
at the new starkness of the maple,
the exposed scaffolding of autumn.
You lift a fallen prong of bones
and begin to work,
naming and renaming 
each leafless thing.

Gillian Sze notes: "Current" is a poetic response to Shane Wilson's sculpture, Gaia (2009), reproduced by permission of the artist.

"Current" is from Quiet Night Think (ECW, 2022). Read my conversation with Gillian Sze.