Tree Tower Dream

Elizabeth Tornes

     for Larry Levis, poet, teacher, friend

You called me to come
to a town hall meeting
of architects & engineers
designing something
you said would never last
and you laughed as I dropped
to the soft grassy earth
from the town hall’s too-high
concrete deck, and we left there
to climb into an empty semi
on its way to Alaska
and you took your wife
Mary Jane aside & whispered to her
and I knew it would be a long
and difficult journey, but I had
the two of you for company, it
would be all right.

Then the truck turned
into a freighter leaving Alaska
and our job was to separate rocks
on the deck into piles of pink,
gray, and black granite, so the trip
to the lower 49 was free, & we left
the rental car behind.
We sallied along some craggy banks,
past albatrosses and puffins
perched on the rocks,
and you pointed out
an ancient brick building
at the top of a high cliff
with an enormous pine tree
built into the corner. Look,
you said, it’s the tree tower
that holds up the building,
and I saw how its strong branches
carved through cornerstones
and brick walls, & how water
trickled down its long spine
beautifully guided
to the river below.

 
 
Elizabeth Tornes

Elizabeth Tornes

Elizabeth Tornes has published three chapbooks, Between the Dog and the Wolf (2016, Five Oaks Press Winter Chapbook Prize Winner), New Moon (2013, Finishing Line Press), and Snowbound, (2012 WFOP Chapbook Contest First Prize). Her poems have been appeared widely in journals and anthologies, including recent poems in Ariel, Blue Heron Review, bornmagazine.com, Illuminations, Main Street Rag, The North American Review, Urban Sasquatch Review, and Yellow Medicine Review.  “Sandy Bay Residential School” was nominated for a 2017 Pushcart Prize.  She has also published Memories of Lac du Flambeau Elders (University of Wisconsin Press, 2004). She lives in Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin.

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