The Names of Trees

 

I am teaching my children
the names of trees

white pine
hemlock
maple

the shape of leaves
the feel of bark

beech
hickory
oak 

how roots hold firm                                                                                                  how seeds set forth and travel

the way birds live in their branches
the way their branches live in my heart 

tamarack
balsam
birch

I am teaching my children
the rising of sap

the bursting of green
the touching of sky 

jack pine
cedar
spruce 

I am teaching my children
the falling to ground
the falling apart 

willow
walnut
elm 

the way seedlings root on nurse logs                                                                    the way saplings reach for light

I am teaching my children
to grow after I’m gone 

poplar
chestnut
ash 

I am teaching my children
to teach their children
the names of trees

 

 

Rae Crossman

Selected as one of the winning poems by Trees for Cities celebrating World Poetry Day 2021 and International Day of Forests 2021 

Set as choral music for adult and children’s choir by Alfred Kunz with the title “Touching of Sky”