Poem of the Week | January 06, 2014

This week we offer a new poem by James Henry Knippen. Knippen’s poems can be found in 32 Poems, Colorado Review, West Branch, Hayden’s Ferry Review, DIAGRAM, 1913: A Journal of Forms, and elsewhere. He currently lives in Texas, where he serves as the poetry editor of Newfound and teaches at Texas State University.

Author’s note:

Our annual family reunions in Green Lake, Wisconsin, began well before I was born and continued until 2009, when the Oakwood Lodge, the bed and breakfast where we stayed, closed for business. The Oakwood first opened in 1867 and sat on a bluff overlooking Big Green Lake, which could be admired through the tall oak trees that haunted the yard between rocky shore and the lodge’s wraparound porch. When I was a child, these trees suggested permanence. By the midpoint of each weeklong vacation, time no longer existed. The slew of bluegill, perch, and rock bass we hooked was perpetual. But as I grew older, the trees became more and more dilapidated. By the time the Oakwood shut down for good, many were trunks with no crowns.



One cannot think wrinkle
and not think surface of a face
or lake. Of time. Absence


of abstract in trees above
the green water. We cannot skip
an acorn like a stone. We


are thirsty, grateful we cannot
cup this wrinkled bark
like water in our hands, sip.


Green water, perennial dark,
black of trunks the only
fact that lets us know the sky


is deeply blue when clear
and dark. We sit on the dock
above the lake, the trees


behind us, a distant storm
across the lake. Perennial blue
light and quiet thunder,


crickets, wind. We know
the trees are there. They shiver
as if a ripple paused mid-rift.