Poem of the Week | March 14, 2016

This week we offer a new poem by Amie Whittemore. Whittemore is a poet, educator, and co-founder of the Charlottesville Reading Series in Charlottesville, Virginia. Her poems have appeared in The Gettysburg Review, Smartish Pace, North American Review, and elsewhere. She is a recipient of a Vermont Studio Center fellowship and a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Memorial Poetry Prize. Her first poetry collection, Glass Harvest, is forthcoming from Autumn House Press.
Author’s note:

Ever since I was a teenager, fall seemed the season of possibility: a new school year could mean, maybe, a new self? Could mean a slipping of one’s own dead leaves, of putting on a bright show? Autumn’s blend of departure and new starts, of fading and glowing at once, still gets me all worked up. Even though I am no longer a student and only sometimes a teacher, the crispness in the air still points to shaking off whatever shades one’s heart. “Autumn Thinking” distils this feeling as well as this feeling’s shadow: the self’s stubborn way of being perpetually static and fluid. I can’t shed all the dead skin at once, nor can I blossom when spring’s light reaches just the right angle. Which is to say this is a poem not only about autumn, but also about my abiding desire to be a tree someday.


Autumn Thinking


Yes, I’m talking about being a tree again.
Deciduous, thrumming with molt, I admire
sycamores shedding their golden fleets


and think, yes, let’s learn finance, chop wood,
tattoo my arms with poppies, study entomology.
Let’s tap maples, shear sheep, discover rare fungi.


It’s the air, I know. It’s the light.
But my autumn-other, she bites,
less mirage than maniac.


Tree, you’re lucky to disperse
tiny boats of yourself, always new ones
rocking briefly in your intricate harbor.