REPLY TO THE QUESTION: “HOW CAN YOU BECOME A POET?”
by Eve Merriam
take the leaf of a tree
trace its exact shape
the outside edges
and inner lines
memorize the way it is fastened to the twig
(and how the twig arches from the branch)
how it springs forth in April
how it is panoplied in July
by late August
crumple it in your hand
so that you smell its end-of-summer sadness
chew its woody stem
listen to its autumn rattle
watch it as it atomizes in the November air
then in winter
when there is no leaf left
It seems now imperative to memorize leaves. Even as they crumple and decay and disappear before our eyes.
It seems important to notice the chewed out bits that spell love.
And to look through the trees and leaves and see what and who else inhabits forests. I'd taken a photo of what seemed to be a little home in the trees, when the purple blankets began to rustle and a person began to emerge. I've seen homeless people camping out in other nearby stands of trees, but not this one. And the thing is, the nights are starting to get very cold. It's very fine for poets to invent leaves in winter, but not so fine for those who sleep outdoors.