The Marriage in the Trees

By Stanley Plumly b. 1939 Stanley Plumly
When the wind was right everything else
was wrong, like the oak we thought built
better than the house split like a ship
on a rock. We let it stand the winter,
spectral, shagged, every sky its snow,
then cut it down, dismantled it in
pieces like disease. Then limbs from
the yellow poplar broke at will—
fell from the heights like bones
of the Puritans; even to gather them
in bundles seemed puritanical.
And the willow, by its nature, wept
long tears of its overbranching,
so pale they were autumnal. These
we turned too easily to switches,
mocking the bickering in the spruce's
nesting eaves, which crows, then jays
bothered all they could. The list,
the list. The sycamore made maps
of disappearance; the copper beech,
parental in its girth, was clipped
hard, by a car, with a wound that wouldn't
heal. Doctoring, then witchery, then
love—nothing we tried would work.
More apple trees that grew nowhere
but down. More maples spilling sugar.
More hawthorns blazing out, telling truth.

Stanley Plumly, "The Marriage in the Trees" from Now That My Father Lies Down Beside Me: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2000 by Stanley Plumly. Reprinted with the permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc, www.harpercollins.com.

Source: Now That My Father Lies Down Beside Me: New and Selected Poems (HarperCollins Publishers Inc, 2000)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Stanley Plumly b. 1939

Subjects Disappointment & Failure, Living, Nature, Trees & Flowers

Poetic Terms Imagery, Blank Verse

 Stanley  Plumly

Biography

Poet Stanley Plumly was born in Barnesville, Ohio, and grew up in the lumber and farming regions of Virginia and Ohio. His father was a lumberjack and welder who died at age fifty-six of a heart attack linked to his alcoholism. Plumly’s parents, and his working-class upbringing, figure frequently in his work, especially his early books. Plumly was educated at Wilmington College, a Quaker school in Ohio, and Ohio University, . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Disappointment & Failure, Living, Nature, Trees & Flowers

Poetic Terms Imagery, Blank Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.