A Dispatch from the Last Stout Elm in Chatham’s Fair Mount Cemetery (N.J.)


Here, too, a tablespoon of light
spills from each temporary star—

to filigree the green blade
of a leaf’s edge in the dark

tree we have climbed as if
to merge our bodies

with the names carved
in the bark: Archie, Janey,

Daphne, Clark, the hearts
you closed around a sapling

have since slackened, gray
and oblong, like elastic

in an old man’s sock—
weightless, almost, as we are,

squirreling higher up
to where the branches fork

the air untouched
by the unbearably pure

glare of a police squad car,
our sweatpants pockets full

of pills and stolen pearls.

Malachi Black is the author of Storm Toward Morning (Copper Canyon Press, 2014).

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