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Holy Heathen Rhapsody


As if underwater, she floats and shimmies
slowly upward while the sun warms. She pauses
to sink again through the green and deeper
green garden leaves of this single tree,
its edifice all of Eden, earth and paradise,
slender branches bending and flowing
with the morning currents.

Summer lolls, lingers in its own mazes,
a white-limbed poplar, leafstalks, peel
of scented bark. Her body—seed wing
or feather down, thread slivers of silk—
touches each curled lobe and creviced branch
as she passes, slides underside, overside,
along the ridges and furrows. (Is that a tiny
tongue finding the way?) Love is this sun-
holding tree of lapping leaves, delves,
canopies, a multi-tangled cover.

A spasm of breeze, the tree shivers, each leaf
twisting white flash/green shadow. By will
or wind, she moves stemward toward the steady
trunk, following fissure and tangent, rests
finally folded in a woody niche. Who could
know better? Regard the celestial; the sky
is not shelter.


Pattiann Rogers

Holy Heathen Rhapsody
Penguin Books


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