Audio: Read by the author.
_____ It was the importance of the trees outdoors,
_____ The freshness of the oak-leaves, not so much
_____ That they were oak-leaves, as the way they looked.
_____ It was everything being more real…
___________ —Wallace Stevens
When I say green, I mean a particular green that seemed
universal where I stood, surrounded by the spring;
to vibrate in each place my eyes lighted. Especially
on one sapling swamp white oak, beside me in a low spot
where an ephemeral pool had left a mark by its passing recently,
where early flowers had begun to fade under the new-minted shade.
The leaves of that sapling were minted, too: so what-they-were,
so veined in radiant detail, that I can call them back before
the inside eye and recover now, not the gladness of the emotion
I felt when I saw them—because that, you know, you never get back—
but the solid fact of the feeling, a thing that having come and gone
left an apophatic, intangible monument behind. All I can do now
is recount their appearance: simple swamp white oak leaves, pear-shaped
in outline, scalloped, not lobed. Coming on a sapling, they were much
bigger than leaves on a full-grown tree. Never having to be, they had
nevertheless arrived, aglow with presence, charged with raw being.
Matthew Robb Brown’s poems have appeared in Seeds in the Black Earth, Bellowing Ark, Christianity Today, Christianity and Literature, Green River Review, Barking Sycamores, Ancient Paths, and the anthology The Country of the Risen King (Baker).
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.