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Deborah Keenan: Gallery for Good Heart

After D. H. Lawrence | His Red Chair



After D. H. Lawrence

Died, it took a long time
For someone to love
Trees as much as he did.

It took a long time for
The larch to stop its mourning,
For the little variegated elder
To snap out of it, grow up
Into the sky.

The copper beech felt sick,
Totally sick, made vain
By Lawrence he could not
Become humble again for
Fifty years.

Arbor day became a sham,
No one taught the children
To love the trees they planted
So the trees were on their own,
Roots stamped down by little feet,
A placid circle of cocoa shells
Around the trunk sending up
A scent the trees could not place.

D. H. Lawrence was so tormented
In his humanness he gave all
Holiness and wisdom to the trees,
And the trees accepted—which of them
Might have resisted such honor
From such tangled genius?

Slowly we learned to love trees again,
As the century closed its heart to us.

Slowly we stroke the bark, drive
A benign stake into the elm, pump
The medicine in, slowly we learn
To feed the birds so they will stay,
Make their homes in trees we tend
As the planet shudders.

Trees. We want their beautiful
Breath on our skin.



His Red Chair

A throne, really. I think we all agreed on that.
Arriving home to find it on fire, his cigarette
Pushing deep into the arm of the red chair,
With red flames to match, and he, asleep,
Not good asleep, that other kind, and we
Decided to save him, I guess, his arm seared,
His soft flannel shirt felt baked, yes, as if
Done, ready to come from the oven, so we
Lifted him, though not gently, saving is saving
And gentle is gentle, I think we sort of carried
Him to the lawn, then I went back inside,
Poured cool water onto the red chair, the flames,
Kept pouring water down into the deep recesses
Of the arm of the chair as if the chair was very
Very thirsty, and so was I, from saving him,
And from saving the chair, too, very thirsty.



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"After D. H. Lawrence," and "His Red Chair" in Good Heart (Minneapolis: Milkweed Editions, 2003). Copyright 2003 by Deborah Keenan. Reprinted with permission from Milkweed Editions.

© 1999 - 2003, by the poets featured herein.