“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 Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, memoirist, editor, translator and librettist. She served as the 22nd Poet Laureate of the United States from 2017-2019. Smith is the author of four poetry collections: Such Color: New and Selected Poems; Wade in the Water, which was awarded the 2018 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award; Life on Mars, which won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize; Duende, winner of the 2006 James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets; and The Body’s Question, which received the 2003 Cave Canem Prize. Her memoir, Ordinary Light, was a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award in nonfiction. She is the co-translator (with Changtai Bi) of My Name Will Grow Wide Like a Tree: Selected Poems of Yi Lei, which was a finalist for the 2021 Griffin Poetry Prize.

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