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They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their
fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. —Psalm 1:3

Trunk, bark, branch, leaf, fruit
do not wholly make a tree
therefore we lie a little, saying,

There’s a nice spot let’s sit under that tree,
before spreading a blanket in the shade,
sunlight and leafshadow dappling our faces.

For the tree we see is matched by the tree
we do not see, its mirror self that grows
beneath the ground, the trunk extending

beneath the trunk, the branches branching
through the soil, stretching out to gather
life-giving groundsoak that sinks

into the earth from above and the particulate
nutrients born of decay and broken
rock, every hairlike rootlet rendered in service

to the search for the stuff of life, sunlight’s
necessary complement, the synthesis
in photosynthesis. So in truth we might say,

spreading our blanket, Here’s a nice spot
let’s sit over this tree, knowing
there is no shade, no fruit, no perch for birds,

no tree at all without the tree we cannot see,
the tree the grass and fallen leaves adorn,
the tree that grasps the ground beneath our feet.

Photo by Daniel Salcius on Unsplash

Brent Newsom

Brent Newsom received the Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award in poetry from Poets & Writers, and has also won the Foley Poetry Prize from America. He wrote the libretto for A Porcelain Doll, an opera based on the life of deaf-blind pioneer Laura Bridgman, and is the author of Love’s Labors (CavanKerry Press, 2015), which was a finalist for the Oklahoma Book Award in poetry. His poems have also appeared in Southern ReviewHopkins ReviewWindhover, Relief, and other journals.