Sunday Sep 22

Clark Poetry Patricia Clark is Poet-in-Residence and Professor in the Department of Writing at Grand Valley State University. Author of five volumes of poetry, Patricia’s latest book is The Canopy and her newest chapbook is Deadlifts, out from New Michigan Press. New work is forthcoming in North American Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Smartish Pace, and Plume. She was poet laureate of Grand Rapids from 2005-2007.

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After Seeing a Fir Down at a Nearby Cemetery


Neither the dead whose graves
                                    the tree spans and covers

nor the nearby dead in neat rows,
                                    maybe even the relatives

do not care, or know. Come
                                    Memorial Day their eyes will open

at a cracked headstone.
                                    But now the fir’s luxurious

green softens iron-hard ground,
                                                the marble markers toppled,

and the trunk lies prone as one
                                    of the dead, now joined.

Once I told my husband how much
                                    Christmas wreaths on graves

cheered me—red bows on circles
                                    of green. Lay one there

for me, I almost said—
                                    I don’t desire that vaulted

dark, permanent as a strut
                                    of a bridge, a building’s footstep.

Burn me and set my spirit free,
                                    ash in the ravine, or mud

of Lamberton Creek or
                                    the Grand River. Let flowing

water flow, and the body’s spirit who adored
                                    motion, rocking—let it move.