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Resignation

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. 

—J.D. McClatchy

“Resignation” J. D. McClatchy from Mercury Dressing: Poems.

Alfred A. Knopf, 2009.

By permission of the author.

J.D. McClatchy

J.D. McClatchy

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