“Watering the Trees” by David Romtvedt

David Romtvedt


Seeing the neighbor watering his pear tree,
I see my father watering the mulberry trees
in our yard. Bitter after his day of labor,
he turns away and I wait, imagining he will
speak across the years and space and what
passed between us will pass away. This
is how I live—pleased to hope in vain,
happy I’ll never see my father again.
The neighbor starts yelling, face purple, 
the veins in his neck ropes pulled tight.
Same veins in my father’s neck. For him,
it was the bosses. For the neighbor, it’s
the idiot liberals, every one of us. Funny
that he likes me. I like him. Maybe 
we’re changing the shape of the universe, 
irony the literary equivalent of the worm
hole that lets our rocket go faster than 
the speed of light. Drop in and come out
a door that isn’t there until you open it.

from Rattle #80, Summer 2023


David Romtvedt: “I’m a musician and poet. Language, meaning, and rhythm drive me in both forms—I write poems that don’t have regular meter but I’m always thinking about how the poems move when spoken. I write party dance music that is metrically very regular but I’m always thinking about using language in ways that will break free of the meter a little.”

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