Grant Clauser


Higher than our house,
one foot in a crook, another
perched on a branch, but barely,
the whole tree swayed in a good wind
while sixty feet below my mother
shouting things it’s lucky I couldn’t hear
to get me down, but from such heights
I could see clear to Parker Street,
the old stone house where Darin
lived until his father died, and then
the shopping center and the woods
that climbed up behind them
like a storm cloud, something
worth knowing moving inside
it, something you could know
a little about by watching
the tops of trees like an equal.

Sycamore II

Some of the oldest trees
in these parts, seed pods
big as goat balls.
They shed their skin
in patches like iguanas,
and the old ones, that sentinel
tree along the dark part
of the Bushkill, they split
their trunks into caves
big enough for a child to hide.
My grandfather showed me
one along the Delaware
older than the Constitution,
and when I squeezed inside,
heard the buzzing of bees
above my head. I thought
it was voices, all the small
animals that hid out fire
one time or another,
history whispering
its needs from the wood,
and when I close my eyes
and think of him, crooked
as a branch, I still hear
their warnings in my head.

From the Author: Lately I’ve been writing a lot about trees, especially trees that stand out as important in my life. OK, that may seem a little silly, but sycamores have always been among my favorites. Whenever I’m hiking or driving around, I make note of the trees and think about how much passes on their watch while they soldier on, silent witnesses.

Grant Clauser is the author of five books including Muddy Dragon on the Road to Heaven (winner of the Codhill Press Poetry Award) and Reckless Constellations (winner of the Cider Press Poetry Award). Poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, Cortland Review, Greensboro Review, Rattle, Tar River Poetry and others. He works as an editor and teaches at Rosemont College.