Light through Winter Trees--New Jersey

For Todd Doney


Walking down the pavement in our town

I passed a gallery window full of trees—

Canvases showing in their winter nakedness

Trees crowded together with

Not enough space to grow.

We have just such trees here

In New Jersey’s woodlands,

Shredded remnants of the once-great forests.


When I would come upon them in the wild,

I always assumed they hadn’t

Very much to say for themselves.

But someone has found out

What these survivors have to say

So he has painted them and brought them here

Where they speak in a chorus of voices.

I suppose some slight breezes


By the rising or the setting sun

Passed through the bare branches

Bringing to the ear

Whispered words

Perhaps of praise—

Praise for the daybreak

Or the sun’s last glowing embers.


Someone has caught

Those perfect passing moments

Of light-pervaded landscape

When all is as it should be

The trees live then

Their full significance

And it is as if

Some great wrong

Has been forgiven.



Betsy Burr