my desk of forty years where I have been
what I am, a poet. It is oak,

a sweet yet solid wood, willing to take
the pounding poetry requires.

I can’t say it has aged over the years —
it looks today as it looked then, used,

squat and wide, a good foundation.
Not a boat anchor, but it holds

me steady. Sometimes, when the wind is right,
it wants to fly, and I fly with it.

Mostly, we touch, with my farmer fingers
put to the grain of it, hoping

to know all the wood knows. Hoping
to feel the strength of that tree in hard wind.

Hoping to hear the promise made
when God said to it: Be Tree. We both

move a little slower now, with age,
as if our atoms contract, collapse,

compact, and it’s no longer so easy
to raise a cry of praise and to sing

of the new day, of love, of this life
spent and re-spent among our certain friends.

When I die, I beg you then to burn me
on a pyre fashioned of this old desk

and listen for the secrets it gives up.

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Tom Montag

Tom Montag

Tom Montag is the author of In This Place: Selected Poems 1982-2013, The Big Book of Ben Zen, and Middle Ground, as well as Curlew: Home, Kissing Poetry's Sister, and The Idea of the Local. He lives in Fairwater, Wisconsin, where he blogs as The Middlewesterner and serves as Managing Editor of the Lorine Niedecker Monograph Series, What Region?
Tom Montag

Latest posts by Tom Montag (see all)

  • This - May 27, 2015