Pushing toward the Canopy

Lesley Wheeler

The neighbor turns away when I wave.
A lichened oak branch broke three stories up;
summer-dark leaves shake in the rain.
I don’t know what I’m doing again.The dangling branch tells three old stories:
Sapwood channeled my desire. I’m high
and don’t know what I’m doing, again.
Ambition transformed into heartwood.My sapwood rose and became me while
the ground mulled over water, water.
Any hardening heart could change its vote.
Rain, unwanted, runnels the dirt.Too much water can weigh you down
till your summer-dark leaves shake with strain.
What do I want, if not dirt and rain,
and friends who turn to me and wave?

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Lesley  Wheeler

Lesley Wheeler’s books include Radioland (Barrow Street Press, 2015) and Heterotopia (Barrow Street Press, 2010), which won the 2009 Barrow Street Press Poetry Prize. Her poems and essays have appeared in Ecotone, Crazyhorse, Poet Lore, The Gettysburg Review, and other journals. Wheeler is the recipient of fellowships from the Fulbright Program and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and is the Henry S. Fox Jr. Professor of English at Washington and Lee University.


Fall 2017

Richmond, Virginia

Virginia Commonwealth University

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