Lake Effect, Volume 26: "For a Poet-Teacher, in Memory"

For a Poet-Teacher, in Memory

By Nancy Eimers


Even deciding where the margin is
is deciding something. Trees mattered to you.
There they are, the thought of them
among my jotted notes and numbers on a page.
Trees stand there, each one a boundary and a beginning.
They started and maybe they ended somewhere
in you. I miss the elms. May I believe
since the words remain on the page a feeling
survives? I ask this at a distance
necessary both in death and between
reader and poem. And also in the way time has
of lighting suddenly and briefly on the oh
so unimportant little things. That they ever were.
Yesterday Bill and I drove past what used to be
trees on the corner. Just a big tall emptiness
was left. Though not completely. Two stumps still
standing there. No scream I know of leaking
out of them. First we were furious at the family
who had done this senseless thing. Then figured
it was probably the City. There are telephone poles
being replaced all down the street. Chunks
of the trees were laid by somebody into stacks.
Some trees no longer lived in
may go on a little while like birds who live inside
of warehouse stores. Trees do not sleep
the way we sleep; they rest at night.
Some rest with birds in them. Birds do not sleep
in nests, except when tending the young.
The end of this street is a margin to disappearance;
almost daily we drive through to the other side.
Once a margin was a sea or a lake.
Somehow it became part of the page.
And pages go on turning, are turned almost in stillness
but for the sweetest papery sound.