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Wednesday, July 12, 2006 01:00 am

American life in poetry

Peoples poetry

our country today has to do with the smallest and briefest of pleasures. Here Marie Howe of New York captures a magical moment: sitting in the shelter of a leafy tree with the rain falling all around.
The Copper Beech
Immense, entirely itself, it wore that yard like a dress,
with limbs low enough for me to enter it and climb the crooked ladder to where
I could lean against the trunk and      practice being alone. One day, I heard the sound before I saw it,      rain fell darkening the sidewalk.
Sitting close to the center,      not very high in the branches, I heard it hitting the high leaves,      and I was happy,
watching it happen without it happening to me.
Reprinted from What the Living Do, W. W. Norton & Co., 1997. Copyright © 1997 by Marie Howe. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.