01 April, 2021: Secrest Arboretum, My Tenth Year in Wooster
Read a Poem
My Tenth Year in Wooster
By Daniel Bourne
(March 28, 1998)
Siberian Larch, Tamarack, Norway
Spruce, Boxwood, Bourne. Yes,
I too am a transplant, the journey
to Ohio, the tongue
of the root system tangling
as it learns a new word for soil.
The vowels between the skinny leaves
and pliant needles. The consonants
like slight grooves in the bark.
Who knows the stories these trees
could have had? The Siberian Larch,
its fate sunk down in Ohio
in 1915, just escaping the Russian Revolution,
the silent parade of men beneath its branches
with guns pointed at the backs
of other men. The Norway Spruce
forming the great backbone of a house
destroyed by saturation bombing. The Boxwood's
deeply concentrated grain
hard to chop down, though its branches
will gladly sacrifice themselves
to the topiarist's delight.
The Tamarack brooding on the edge
of a cranberry bog. —And Bourne?
One ancestor came in 1838 to Ohio
to build a canal, but left soon after
to farm in Illinois. And his great-
great-grandson comes in 1988
to settle here, ten years later,
on the first green grass of late March
to look up in the branches
of another type of family,
its arms opened in welcome,
“Secrest Arboretum, My Tenth Year in Wooster” by Daniel Bourne, from I Have My Own Song for It: Modern Poems of Ohio. Eds. Elton Glaser and William Greenway. The University of Akron Press. 2003. Also from 85 Acres on Route 83. Ed. David Wiesenberg. Wooster Book Company. 1998. Used by permission of the author.
Daniel Bourne’s books of poetry include The Household Gods (Cleveland State University) and Where No One Spoke the Language (CustomWords), and his poems have appeared in Ploughshares, American Poetry Review, Boulevard, Guernica, Salmagundi, Shenandoah, Prairie Schooner, Quarterly West, Plume, and others. Recently he retired from teaching at The College of Wooster, though he continues as editor for Artful Dodge. Since 1980 he has also lived in Poland, including 1985-87 on a Fulbright for translating younger Polish poets, and most recently in 2018 and 2019 for an anthology of Baltic Coast poets. His translations of Polish poets appear in a number of journals, including Field, Colorado Review, Boulevard, and Prairie Schooner. Visit his website at danielbourneblog.wordpress.com.
Write a Poem
Write a poem about an ancestor you never knew, real or imagined.