Banana Trees

By Joseph Stanton Joseph Stanton
They are tall herbs, really, not trees,
though they can shoot up thirty feet
if all goes well for them. Cut in cross

section they look like gigantic onions,
multi-layered mysteries with ghostly hearts.
Their leaves are made to be broken by the wind,

if wind there be, but the crosswise tears
they are built to expect do them no harm.
Around the steady staff of the leafstalk

the broken fronds flap in the breeze
like brief forgotten flags, but these
tattered, green, photosynthetic machines

know how to grasp with their broken fingers
the gold coins of light that give open air
its shine. In hot, dry weather the fingers

fold down to touch on each side--
a kind of prayer to clasp what damp they can
against the too much light.

Poem copyright © 2006 by Joseph Stanton. Reprinted from “A Field Guide to the Wildlife of Suburban O’ahu,” Time Being Books, 2006, with permission of the publisher.

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Poet Joseph Stanton

Subjects Nature, Trees & Flowers


Joseph Stanton’s books of poems include A Field Guide to the Wildlife of Suburban O‘ahu, Cardinal Points, Imaginary Museum: Poems on Art, and What the Kite Thinks. He has published more than 300 poems in such journals as Poetry, Harvard Review, Poetry East, The Cortland Review, Ekphrasis, Bamboo Ridge, Elysian Fields Quarterly, Endicott Studio’s Journal of the Mythic Arts, and New York Quarterly. In 2007, Ted Kooser . . .

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SUBJECT Nature, Trees & Flowers

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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