Maxine Scates

Maxine Scates

Maxine Scates is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently “My Wilderness,” in which this poem appears.

Unlike the black locust, dead ten years
but still standing in the field, home to the osprey,
its nest and six turkey vultures who roost
in its branches every morning, when I'm dead
I won't be here on a summer afternoon, doe
crossing the field, horse neighing, another
answering back, as, drifting in and out of sleep
behind a screen of jasmine, I stand
on either side of the river facing myself
along with those not me, not here, who tell me
it's not death I fear but being left behind. Now
Viola/Cesario says "I am not who I seem,"
or is it "what I seem" and nothing is,
but something lingers asking to be told. This time
the horse's hooves sink through snow, thud
against the frozen planking of a bridge, this time
painting after painting of flowering orchards,
"Van Gogh liked orchards," the caption says,
and so he painted not one tree, not an entire tree
but seemed to dwell inside the idea of a tree
whose roots were endless.

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