Today, Another Universe

The arborist has determined:
senescence         beetles       canker
quickened by drought
                                    but in any case
not prunable     not treatable     not to be propped.

And so.

The branch from which the sharp-shinned hawks and their mate-cries.

The trunk where the ant.

The red squirrels’ eighty foot playground.

The bark  cambium    pine-sap    cluster of needles.

The Japanese patterns       the ink-net.

The dapple on certain fish.

Today, for some, a universe will vanish.
First noisily,
then just another silence.

The silence of after, once the theater has emptied.

Of bewilderment after the glacier,
the species, the star.

Something else, in the scale of quickening things,
will replace it,
this hole of light in the light, the puzzled birds swerving around it.




Jane Hirshfield’s most recent books are The Beauty (poems) and Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World (essays), both from Knopf in 2015. A current chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, recent work appears in The New Yorker, The New York Times T Magazine, and the Canadian journal Brick. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Read poetry by Jane Hirshfield previously appearing in

Header photo of lone pine in fog by cocoparisienne, courtesy Pixabay.

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2 Responses

  1. Patricia McGoldrick

    Thanks for sharing this beautiful testament to your tree! It resonates with me, as a tree lover and as a person who has lost a tree, as well. The silver maple in our backyard was a gem but one that was starting to decay. It has been taken down and we have a literal marker in its place. I am fortunate enough to have a backyard edged with more trees but this one had a special glow. Your poem said so much about your tree and loss.

  2. Faith Kaltenbach

    So observant and beautiful. I once had a second-floor bay-window apartment that was like a tree house. I moved when they cut the tree down.

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