How to Draw a Tree
by Pamela Starr
First, abandon your desk and go outside.
Stand under the spreading branches,
gazing through curling leaves,
then down at swaths of eyelet
like Swiss cheese, holes
of light surrounded by shadow.
As the breeze fans your bare arms,
turn your gaze upon the massive trunk
stretching into the sky, touch
the jagged bark and blotches of lichen
that stick to one side, true north. Rest
your head on bare brown roots
and imagine how they grip
the ground beneath. Smell
the loam that covers them,
breathe in its freshness before
you go back inside, charcoal in hand,
to trace it on the naked page.
Sketch the trunk quickly, then feathery
branches and a cloud of leaves,
stippling a few to show their texture.
No brush stroke will capture
what rustles the leaves, or the squawk
of birds as they shout to one another
from branch to branch, or the peace
you feel lying flat on the ground
and looking up on a warm spring day,
when everything seems possible, the day
stretching endlessly in front of you,
dusk a dream far, far away.
Pamela Starr lives in Hudson, Massachusetts, and has worked as a textbook editor, technical writer, and project manager. Previous publications include an essay in Negative Capability as well as poems in Ballard Street Poetry Journal, GlassFire Magazine, Tilt-a-Whirl, and Currents Anthology VII.