I See God Standing in Stout Grove

by Larina Warnock
poets.org
Second Place, August 2007
Judged by Deborah Bogen


Here, Heaven appears in bursts of broken sunlight
between treetops swaying with the weight of words;
supplication spirals up from bodies unbent, unkneeling.

Here, faces appear carved in soft red bark, and limbs
stretch earthward as invitations for embrace; gnarled
branches curl like arthritic hands without pain.

Here, seedlings appear along the frames of the fallen;
new trunks rise beside fern and moss over logs lying
prone; roots curl over ancient stumps and both survive.

Here, redwoods appear in clusters; gods grow upon gods,
between gods, within gods–relics of old religions twisting
together in perpetual union, continuous creation.

Beneath these branches, I know why ancients worshipped
trees, why they sought solace in these groves
and found them filled with spirit-tinged whispers.

I remember you from my youth, Lord.
I remember you from a childlike dream.


A poem explaining what Heaven (with a capital H) is that uses a decidedly pagan imagery many would think is opposed to heavenly values is immediately interesting--the poet has something he or she is really thinking about. And this poem makes its inquiry via complicated linguistic turns that add to its complexity, e.g., "Here, redwoods appear in clusters; gods grow upon gods,/ between gods, within gods..." This profusion of little-g gods whose referent is clearly vegetative growth tempts us then to re-read the poem as more pagan. But the poet does not allow this simplification closing with "I remember you from my youth, Lord./ I remember you from a childlike dream." --Deborah Bogen

  • August 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      The World Is Moist in the Morning
      by Terry Ofner
      The Waters

      Second Place

      My Epitaph
      by Guy Kettelhack
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Third Place

      I kissed a tree
      by Alison Armstrong-Webber
      The Waters

  • July 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      The First Time I Drank With My Father
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Waters

      Second Place

      My Bicycle
      by Andrew Dufresne
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Third Place

      J. Alfred Prufrock Searches for Mrs. Right
      by Laurie Byro
      Babilu