Bare Tree

You, most admirable aspen tree: I admire the way
a wound sine bull elk grinding his develveting horns

on your trunk has healed to a pale gray
that accentuates your beauty now, a decade later on.

And as today’s autumn storm undresses you leaf
by delicate gold leaf, I watch until you stand

utterly bare, as we say of your kind so unsheathed.
If I’d thought, as the storm began,

that you would be less lovely uncovered,
forgive me. What did I know, just a man

watching from a window, who, having observed
and studied a wet leaf plastered against the pane,

missed, among the hundred others whirling past
in the swirl and toss of the rain, the very last.

Robert Wrigley has published eight collections of poetry, the most recent of which is Beautiful Country (Penguin, 2010). His poems have appeared in many journals, including Poetry, The Atlantic, Barrow Street, and The New Yorker, and were included in the 2003 and 2006 editions of Best American Poetry. Wrigley’s honors and awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Idaho State Commission on the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation, as well as the J. Howard and Barbara M.J. Wood Prize, the Frederick Bock Prize from Poetry magazine, the Wagner Award from the Poetry Society of America, the Theodore Roethke Award from Poetry Northwest, and six Pushcart Prizes. From 1987 until 1988 he served as the state of Idaho’s writer-in-residence.