by Theodora Goss
Come to me out of the forest, man of leaves,
whose arms are branches, whose legs are two trunks,
rough bark covered with lichen. Come and take
my hands in yours, and lead me in this dance:
In spring, green buds will sprout upon your head;
in summer they will lengthen into leaves.
Oak man, willow man, linden man, which are you?
In autumn, they will fall, and through the winter
you will be bare, with only clumps of snow
or birds upon your branches.
Come and love me,
my man of leaves, my forest man. For you,
I’ll be an alder woman, birch woman.
In spring I’ll wear pink blossoms like the cherry;
in summer ripening fruit will bend my boughs;
in autumn I will bear, distributing
a hundred seeds, our children. And the birds
will sing my praises. Let us learn to love
the sun and wind together; let us twine
our bodies, filled with sap, until we make
a single tree on which two different kinds
of leaves are growing, where birds build their nests,
among whose roots the squirrels hide their nuts,
storing them for winter.
A hundred years from now, we will still stand,
crooked perhaps, the sap running more slowly,
our two hearts beating, separately and together,
under the summer skies, in autumn rains.
(The illustration is by Arthur Rackham. The poem was published in my collection Songs for Ophelia.)