Poetry of Kansas Here & Now, There & Then

135. Finding the Scarf

The woods are the book

we read over and over as children.

Now trees lie at angles, felled

by lightning, torn by tornados,

silvered trunks turning back

to earth. Late November light

cuts through the oaks in diagonals

as our small parade, father, mother, child,

shushes through, the wind searching treetops

for the last leaf. Childhood lies

on the forest floor, not evergreen

but oaken, its branches latched

to a graying sky. Here is the scarf

we left years ago like a bookmark,

meaning to return the next day,

having just turned our heads

toward a noise in the bushes,

toward the dinnerbell in the distance,

toward what we knew and did not know

we knew, in the spreading twilight

that returns changed to a changed place.

– Wyatt Townley

Wyatt Townley is a fourth-generation Kansan. Her work has appeared in journals ranging from The Paris Review to Newsweek. Books of poetry include The Breathing Field (Little, Brown), Perfectly Normal (The Smith), and her new collection, The Afterlives of Trees (Woodley), which she won a Master Fellowship from the Kansas Arts Commission to complete.

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Comments on: "135. Finding the Scarf" (2)

  1. Rick Nichols said:

    It was a treat to hear the author read this in Lawrence. The first sentence is definitely a keeper.

  2. Great poem! I found myself in the poem, the father holding my daughter’s hand as we climbed over the roots along the bank of Cow Creek. F. Victor Sullivan, EdD, Pittsburg, KS

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