Hot Metal Bridge

Current Issue : Number Twenty-Five

Japanese Maples


I want to study maple trees today, learn words
for their saturation points and the shapes
of those leaves that make me think of pointillism.
I guess that might be specific to Japanese maples,
though I wonder if I will have to study every
maple tree in the world, if I will get lost in facts
I’ll lose interest in, if I’ll ever find the thing
someone else has written—if the words yet exist.
Maybe I just want to find a maple tree and be
near it, unsure of its vocabulary, thinking
pointillist thoughts and consciously following
my breath all the way to the top of the inhale
and then to the bottom of the exhale. I want
to know whether maple trees have the same
experience, whether they study the world
to bring themselves into it, or whether they are
always touched to source. I think about how
trees spend every one of their days under sky,
know every moment of sunlight, every moment
of moonlight. This is probably what I want
to study, the relationship of the situation
of the tree to my confusion about pointillism.

Rae Gouirand’s first collection of poetry, Open Winter, was selected by Elaine Equi for the Bellday Prize, won an Independent Publisher Book Award and the Eric Hoffer Book Award, and was a finalist for the Montaigne Medal, the Audre Lorde Award, and the California Book Award for poetry. Her new work has appeared most recently in American Poetry Review, ZYZZYVA, VOLT, The Brooklyner, The Rumpus, FANZINE, The California Journal of Poetics, and in a Distinguished Poet feature for The Inflectionist Review. She is currently at work on her third collection of poems and a work of nonfiction (