“Some Trees”

A Poem by Tracy K. Smith

October 18, 2021  By Tracy K. Smith

The lithe branches,
the solid trunks,
the leaves atilt
in summer sun.
What trees know

they know from
what the rains bring,
what’s carried
on the breeze, from
their railroad of roots

under the gridwork
of our streets. Some trees
bear our very scars. High up
On their bark, up
in their crook of arms,

up in the traffic
of leaves: fact cleaves.
The message
is only now arriving
in my city and yours,

and on the far shores
of the nationless sea.
A man was lynched yesterday
is what some trees
seem to say.


Such Color, Tracy K. Smith

“Some Trees” excerpted from Such Color. Copyright © 2021 by Tracy KSmith. Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Tracy K. Smith
Tracy K. Smith
Tracy K. Smith is a librettist, translator and the author of five acclaimed poetry collections, including Life on Mars, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. Her memoir, Ordinary Light, was a finalist for the National Book Award. From 2017 to 2019, she served as the 22nd Poet Laureate of the United States. She lives in Massachusetts.

More Story
On the Unattainable Myth of Feminine Beauty Ideals and Our Culture of Fat Phobia I’m fat. Let’s start there. Not only am I fat, the ancestors saw fit to deny me the proportions that are so frequently...

Become a Lit Hub Supporting Member: Because Books Matter

For the past decade, Literary Hub has brought you the best of the book world for free—no paywall. But our future relies on you. In return for a donation, you’ll get an ad-free reading experience, exclusive editors’ picks, book giveaways, and our coveted Joan Didion Lit Hub tote bag. Most importantly, you’ll keep independent book coverage alive and thriving on the internet.