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Winter Trees
David K. Leff


No longer buzzed on chlorophyll or tarted-up with autumn
colors, winter trees are a ragged lot. Few branch out
with the graceful lines of field guide silhouettes. Gnarled,
leaning with tropisms, bulging with goitrous growths,
hollowed and cracked, they’re shaped by disease, struggles
for light and water.

I like walking the streets with skeletal boughs arcing
darkly against the sky as they creak and groan
in a freezing wind. They seem misplaced, hanging
over a manufactured world of cars and macadam,
streetlights, and carefully built houses striving to deny
nature’s trademark imperfection.

My face reddened and parched by January gusts, I duck
into a tavern moist and warm as a greenhouse, smoky
and humming with conversation punctuated by laughter. No
calendar hunks or cover girls are clutching beers
and doing shots at the bar. But among the thin lips, wispy
hair, crooked noses and scarred skin, stories grow like trees.

From Depth of Field (Antrim House, 2010).
Used with the author's permission.


David K. Leff (1955 - 2022) was an author, poet, and playwright, the author of six nonfiction books, three volumes of poetry, and a novel in verse. His journals, correspondence, and other papers are archived at the University of Massachusetts Libraries in Amherst. David's 2016 book, Canoeing Maine’s Legendary Allagash: Thoreau, Romance and Survival of the Wild, won a silver medal in the Nautilus Book Awards for memoir and a silver medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards for regional nonfiction. In 2016-2017, the National Park Service appointed him as poet-in-residence for the New England National Scenic Trail (NET). David served in a multitude of civic roles, including Deputy Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and town meeting moderator, historian, and volunteer firefighter--for 26 years--in his hometown of Canton, Connecticut. Learn more about David at




Post New Comment:
very nice!
Posted 01/09/2011 05:43 PM
Beautiful imagery, words.
Posted 01/09/2011 04:00 PM
wonderful contrast in this poem and interesting word choices. I can feel and see the scene.
Posted 01/09/2011 03:49 PM
Loved your poem today..I too love the winter trees and the locals at neighborhood bars. Great imagery.
Posted 01/09/2011 02:26 PM
I love the twist at the end!
Posted 01/09/2011 01:10 PM
Linda Lee Konichek:
Fresh, new imagery from the first line to the last! My favorite poems are like this, imagery and all the senses come alive! Thank you, David!
Posted 01/09/2011 10:50 AM
Lovely poem with wonderful images. We are all nature, aren't we?
Posted 01/09/2011 10:09 AM

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