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Finding the Scarf

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The woods are the book
we read over and over as children.
Now trees lie at angles, felled
by lightning, torn by tornados,
silvered trunks turning back

to earth. Late November light
slants through the oaks
as our small parade, father, mother, child,
shushes along, the wind searching treetops
for the last leaf. Childhood lies

on the forest floor, not evergreen
but oaken, its branches latched
to a graying sky. Here is the scarf
we left years ago like a bookmark,

meaning to return the next day,
having just turned our heads
toward a noise in the bushes,
toward the dinnerbell in the distance,

toward what we knew and did not know
we knew, in the spreading twilight
that returns changed to a changed place.

Poem copyright ©2007 by Wyatt Townley from her most recent book of poems, The Afterlives of Trees, Woodley Press, 2011. Poem reprinted by permission of Wyatt Townley and the publisher.
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Finding the Scarf

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  • Poet, writer, and yoga teacher Wyatt Townley has published both collections of poetry and books on yoga and dance. Her work has appeared in journals such as the Paris Review and North American Review, and been featured in both Ted Kooser’s “American Life in Poetry” column and Garrison Keillor's “The Writer's Almanac” radio program. Her poetry collections include Perfectly Normal (1990), The Breathing Field: Meditations on Yoga (2002), and The Afterlives of Trees (2011). A recipient of a Master Artist Fellowship in Poetry from the Kansas Arts Commission, she was invited by the commission in 2003 to help establish that state’s Poet Laureate program.

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