Friday

A Young Woman, A Tree

The life spills over, some days.
She cannot be at rest,
Wishes she could explode

Like that red tree—
The one that bursts into fire
All this week.

Senses her infinite smallness
But can’t seize it,
Recognizes the folly of desire,

The folly of withdrawal—
Kicks at the curb, the pavement,
If only she could, at this moment,

When what she’s doing is plodding
To the bus stop, to go to school,
Passing that fiery tree—if only she could

Be making love,
Be making a painting,
Be exploding, be speeding through the universe

Like a photon, like a shower
Of yellow flames—
She believes if she could only catch up

With the riding rhythm of things, of her own electrons,
Then she would be at rest—
If she could forget school,

Climb the tree,
Be the tree,
burn like that.

~ Alicia Ostriker

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