FALL 2011

Ellen Bass


To see a tree, go to a tree.

Who could need god less
than this cypress with its rough bark,
color of tarnished silver, deep trenches
running up and down the trunk
as though rivers once carved its hide.
If I sat here long enough,
I could see the xylem and phloem travel,
the way if you stare at your own hand,
the streams of blue-green blood begin
to flow, tendons sliding below the skin. 
The great tree god surrounded by the 
humble legions of the grass gods.
For a moment I stop trying to gather
the lost blessings of my own small country.
The setting sun slants through the branches,
sinking into its dark, thick scales.
Here is a being who breathes me in
as I breathe out. What other god
is so reliable, so devoid of miracles?

I can give up hope for a little while


Ellen Bass's poetry books include The Human Line (Copper Canyon Press) and Mules of Love (BOA Editions). She teaches in Pacific University's low-residency MFA program.



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