Old Growth

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audio: Old Growth
audio of Max Gutmann's poem, Old Growth

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Max Gutmann

Old Growth

 

      So rooted
      seem couples to a child! Firm-trunked and tall.
      Some scrawny: sparsely leaved or badly fruited,
      but fixed and solid, works of nature all.
      It challenges imagination
      that choice was part of the creation.

      That they,
      these halves, weren’t mingled always, childhood fails
      to comprehend. The stories of the way
      one’s parents met are magic, fairy tales.
      To know the seed becomes the tree
      does not dispel the mystery.

      Divorce,
      unless it strikes our parents, flashes where
      it cannot burst our faith. A sudden force
      that leaves the broken trunks deformed but there,
      disaster-stricken, strangely ill,
      but giving partial shelter still.

      We feel
      this all collapse as childhood’s shed. The trees
      we thought so firm and fixed were never real.
      To navigate by them can only tease.
      Whatever fantasies persist,
      unmoving couples don’t exist.

      To find
      one’s half and gather height and leaves are less
      like acts of nature than like hiking blind.
      Soil shifts and landmarks vanish. We must guess,
      our one-time orchard morphing to
      a wood no map can guide us through.