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By Ruby Robinson

There is an ash tree behind this house. You

can see it from our bedroom window.

If you stare at it for long enough, you’ll see

it drop a leaf. Stare at it now, you said,

and notice the moment a leaf strips away

from its branch, giving a twirl. Consider this.


The ash tree unclothes itself Octoberly.

From beside our bed, fingering the curtain,

observe the dark candles at the top of

that tree, naked and alert, tending to the breeze.

A sheet of ice between the rooftops

and this noiseless sky has turned the air


inside out. Black veins of branches

shake against the blue screen on which they

hang. Small mammals are hibernating

in pellets of warm air under ground. But,

in spite of the cold, this ash tree does not shy

from shrugging off its coat, sloping its nude


shoulders to the night. So, you said, undo,

unbutton, unclasp, slowly remove. Let down your

hair, breathe out. Stand stark in this room until

we remember how not to feel the chill.

Stand at the window, lift your arms right up

like a tree. Yes — like that. Watch leaves drop.


Source: Poetry (October 2014)

Poet Bio

Ruby Robinson was born in Manchester, England. She studied English literature at the University of East Anglia and is a graduate of the Sheffield Hallam University Writing MA.

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