The Cherry Tree

By David Wagoner b. 1926 David Wagoner
Out of the nursery and into the garden   
where it rooted and survived its first hard winter,   
then a few years of freedom while it blossomed,   
put out its first tentative branches, withstood   
the insects and the poisons for insects,   
developed strange ideas about its height   
and suffered the pruning of its quirks and clutters,   
its self-indulgent thrusts   
and the infighting of stems at cross purposes   
year after year.  Each April it forgot   
why it couldn’t do what it had to do,   
and always after blossoms, fruit, and leaf-fall,   
was shown once more what simply couldn’t happen.   

Its oldest branches now, the survivors carved   
by knife blades, rain, and wind, are sending shoots   
straight up, blood red, into the light again.

Poem copyright ©2008 by David Wagoner, whose most recent book of poetry is Good Morning and Good Night, University of Illinois Press, 2005. Reprinted from Crazyhorse, No. 73, Spring 2008, by permission of David Wagoner.

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Poet David Wagoner b. 1926

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Subjects Nature, Trees & Flowers

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 David  Wagoner


David Wagoner is recognized as the leading poet of the Pacific Northwest, often compared to his early mentor Theodore Roethke, and highly praised for his skillful, insightful and serious body of work. He has won numerous prestigious literary awards including the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, two Pushcart Prizes, and the Academy of Arts and Letters Award, and has twice been nominated for the National Book Award. The author of ten . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Trees & Flowers

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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