so the series closes, as it must, with words that tie this terrible
experience to the continuity of human existence. Thank you for reading.
Contributor Series 1: 9/11
What the tree has seen
By Cassie Premo Steele
(written in the aftermath of 9/11 for a women’s peace rally)
In the middle of a city park
women gather with each other
near an ancient magic tree
and sing of what the tree has seen.
In the south, a woman sings of eyes
stabbed open, and of other eyes sewn shut,
while beneath the morning sky of blue,
children played on swings and pigeons cooed.
No one moved when in the north a woman
screamed, her teeth and tongue torn wide,
her grey tone rising til it turned to stone
and, wailing, fell upon the ground nearby.
In the west, a woman kept a constant rhythm,
laying bare hands against the wood,
with heavy patience, as only a mother,
mourning her weaning child, could.
Still in the east there stands an ancient woman,
who calls upon the spirit with upraised hands
of five-fingered yellow leaves in autumn light.
She prays to bring back breath to all those
still sleeping, or dead, or not quite,
as day descends and turns the tree to night.
Moonlit, the women stand in silence
and raise a toast to all the tree has seen.
They are drunk in honor of her memory,
what makes possible the songs they sing.
Cassie Premo Steele’s poetry is scheduled to appear in vox poetica in 2009.