Tricia Knoll


"The grain of a wood is the language of a tree." -Ursula Le Guin

My pine desk. The gift
zelkova sewing box from Japan
angles the grains of drawers
this way and that. A melody
of fireplace mantles and floorboard swirls.
Picture frames and pastry boards.
That cherry spoon your cousin carved.
A ruler from the old days.

They hold their tongues while I see in quiet
veneers the years the rings sucked water,
the way the carpenter lined up joins,
where end grains make music
lines and flecks of notes. Time
signatures in the nicks from hooves
of black metal stallions I galloped
on the dark mahogany
dining room table burnt
umber from a prairie sun.

For how we never said
what mattered at that table
fifty years ago—I pick up soft
rag and beeswax paste, rub
with the tight grain
to lay to rest
all I might have said.

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