I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do. —Willa Cather Here the oak and silver-breasted birches Stand in their sweet familiarity While underground, as in a black mirror, They have concealed their tangled grievances, Identical to the branching calm above But there ensnared, each with the others’ hold On what gives life to which is brutal enough. Still, in the air, none tries to keep company Or change its fortune. They seem to lean On the light, unconcerned with what the world Makes of their decencies, and will not show A jealous purchase on their length of days. To never having been loved as they wanted Or deserved, to anyone’s sudden infatuation Gouged into their sides, to all they are forced To shelter and to hide, they have resigned themselves.
“Resignation” J. D. McClatchy from Mercury Dressing: Poems.
Alfred A. Knopf, 2009.
By permission of the author.
J.D. McClatchy (1945- ) was born in Pennsylvania and educated at Georgetown and Yale Universities. He is the author of six poetry collections, as well as essay collections and translations. A former chancellor of the American Academy of Poets and president of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, he is the recipient of fellowships and grants from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. McClatchy teaches English at Yale University and is editor of The Yale Review. Photo credit: Geoff Spear
Learn more about J.D. McClatchy at The Poetry Foundation