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Birch Trees

By Tracy Mitchell, May 11, 2017.

More work by Tracy Mitchell
  1.    Birch Trees

    I think the birch tree knew
    as its leaves fell for the last time,
    when sap ceased to complete its trek
    and rot overwhelmed the trunk.

    I think the birch tree knew
    when it would surrender its place,
    topple to the edge of the pond
    and prod the world diagonal --

    a white line cantilevered
    to perfect angle with its own reflection,
    a sight as breathtaking as God could make
    or as nature could do on its own.

    You would like birch trees -
    this is the world they always choose.
     
  2. Tom Riordan

    Tom Riordan member Supporter

    Quite charming and lovely, Tracy.
    I'm a big confused in here:
    - Tom
     
    Tracy Mitchell likes this.
  3. Yes, Tom - that is sticker.  Suggestions?
    Thanks for reading.

    T
     
  4. Tom Riordan

    Tom Riordan member Supporter

    get rid of one "from" - and clarify what you mean?
     
    Tracy Mitchell likes this.
  5. Anna Ruiz

    Anna Ruiz I have the same religion as that tree over there. Supporter


    A little sequence change.
     
    Tracy Mitchell likes this.
  6. Roger Fizzerton

    Roger Fizzerton Well-Known Member Supporter Editor


    Very nice Tracy, especially the striking image in S3.  

    A few thoughts:

    I think the birch tree knew
    it would surrender its place
    topple to the edge of the pond
    and prod the world diagonal

    a white line cantilevered
    to perfect angle with its own reflection,
    a sight as breathtaking as God could make.


    Not sure S4 adds much to me - that image in s3 is so strong, i think it might be worth finnishing on it.


    Roger
     
    Tracy Mitchell and David Belcher like this.
  7. Tim J Brennan

    Tim J Brennan Well-Known Member


    Nice poem. I read "Birches" at my father's funeral.
     
    Tracy Mitchell likes this.
  8. don chance

    don chance "~Happy Buddha~"


    Hi Tracy,
    I liked the beginning of the poem for S1 and S2.
    The rest did not seem to fit, almost like two separate poems.
    The phrasing on first two stanzas really good expression.
    JMHO.
     
    Tracy Mitchell likes this.
  9. Thanks Don, you're right, there's a shifting of gears after s.2.
    Appreciate the comments.

    T
     
    don chance likes this.
  10. David Belcher

    David Belcher Don't forget to be Awesome Supporter

    I like Roger's version Tracy, but I'm having trouble believing 'I think the birch tree knew' and I wondered why mention God? I'd write a version of this where you simply write 'I knew the birch tree...' and so on, see where that leads. Roger picks out what I think are the strongest lines.
     
    Tracy Mitchell likes this.
  11. silent lotus

    silent lotus _-_== Loiterer ==_-_ Supporter

    dear Tracy

    fine portrait of the fall
    of a dictator



    silent
     
    Tracy Mitchell likes this.
  12. Keith Morley

    Keith Morley Well-Known Member

    This is delightful, the phrasing makes this for me, the calm way the N relays its beauty and softly reveals the scene to the reader is spot on. Tom has called out the bumpy part so I look forward to the final edit. Best Keith

    edit suggestion, hope you dont mind

    I think the birch tree knew
    as its leaves fell for the last time
    when sap ceased to complete its lap
    and rot overwhelmed the trunk.
    I think the birch tree knew

    when it would surrender past places
    topple to the edge of the pond
    its white line caught cantilevered
    by its own reflection,
    a sight as breathtaking as God could make,
    or as nature could do on its own.

    You would like birch trees -
    this is the world they always choose.
     
    Tracy Mitchell likes this.
  13. Cameron McClure

    Cameron McClure Half man, half banana Supporter

    Tracy, I like the idea here but I think you need punctuation and to split the long sentences - I can't find a way to read S 1,2 and 3 either separately or in pairs that makes grammatical sense. I would ditch S4 as well; it introduces a conversational tone, addressing 'you' which is at odds with the inner musings of 'I think'. Making the minimum change to your words I have suggested a few things below. C

    I think the birch tree knew
    as [when] its leaves fell for the last time[,] when I read ‘as’ I expect a ‘that’

    when sap ceased to complete its lap[,]
    and rot overwhelmed the trunk[.]

    I think the birch tree [it] knew the repetition doesn’t add anything for me
    when it would surrender its place
    topple to the edge of the pond
    and prod the world from such diagonal
    from which [as] a wind might [use to] find its way, [.] This line belongs to this S. Edit to remove repeat of ‘from’

    to see [T]his white line cantilevered
    to perfect angle with its own reflection,
    [is] a sight as breathtaking as God could make,
    or as nature could do on its own.

    You would like birch trees -
    this is the world they always choose.
     
    Tracy Mitchell likes this.
  14. TrishSaunders

    TrishSaunders Member Supporter Editor

    I don't know how I missed this, it's very fine, I can picture it, Tracy.
    Like everyone, I stumbled (only a little!)  over this:
    and prod the world from such diagonal

    but don't really have a solution. I like Rog.'s idea.

    It's a fr*cking gorgeous poem. I love those birch trees beyond reason
    & the quaking aspen....wow! do you have those? we don't have those out here on the West coast..
    T
     
    Tracy Mitchell likes this.
  15. TrishSaunders

    TrishSaunders Member Supporter Editor

    AND, one more thing:  is that your photo on your avatar! Nice one.
     
    Tracy Mitchell likes this.
  16. What great feedback! I'm sorry it took me so long to get back to this.
    Tom, you've pinpointed the problem area and I love the suggestions about how to correct.  Cameron, you are right about the grammar, which I had hoped I had sufficiently fudged to make it work in an focused way.  but as I tinker with revisions, the grammar becomes a central thing to get right and put in the background.
    Roger I very much like your simplification, and Keith, your suggestion for the middle stanzas provides a consistent voice.

    David- God is in the poem as a doubtful and contrasting presence for the N, to the certainty of the birch's confidence in her destiny.

    Tim- Birches by Frost is an incredible poem, I bet it was very well received at the funeral.

    Silent Lotus -- :)

    Thanks for such great comments.  I need to sleep on this.
    - - -
    Thanks so much for the pic and the feature!

    - - - -

    Trish - thank you for such kind comments.  Yes, we have quaking aspen - well named, I might say.  And the birch are special.  And yes, the avatar is a picture I took about 10 days ago.  Glad you like the poem.

    T
     
  17. TrishSaunders

    TrishSaunders Member Supporter Editor

    what is that bird, Tracy.
     
  18. Not very creative -- it's called the Yellow-Headed Blackbird.  They are pretty common in my area, and do a nice job posing for the camera.
     
  19. TrishSaunders

    TrishSaunders Member Supporter Editor

    a real beauty; glad they're 'common' .... the blackbird has a beautiful song, the only ones we have here are red-winged blackbirds.
     
  20. These guys have the characteristic blackbird song as well.  Mixes so well with the meadowlarks.
     
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