Friday, February 14, 2014

Tree Poems by Karla Kuskin

Hello, and happy Poetry Friday! Please visit lovely Linda at TeacherDance for Roundup.

Also: Happy hearts and flowers and chocolates! Yes, it's a commercialized holiday, but it's never a bad time to let someone know that you love them, right?

And that brings me to CYBILS. Congratulations to all the winners, especially one Amy Ludwig VanDerwater! Yay, Amy, so happy for you and FOREST HAS A SONG. Such a fine group of finalists this year!

In Amy's honor, I've decided to share today some of Karla Kuskin's poems about trees. Aren't trees a wonderful subject?? I'd like to give them a valentine.

 The Tree and Me

There's a tree by the meadow
By the sand by the sea
On a hillock near a valley
That belongs to me
With small spring leaves
Like small green dimes
That cast their shadows on the grass
A thousand separate times
With round brown branches
Like outstretched sleeves
And the twigs come out as fingers
And the fingers hold the leaves
With blossoms here and there
And always  pink and soft and stout
And when the blossoms disappear
The apples hurry out
In the middle of the blossoms
In the center of the tree
With a hat and coat of leaves on
Sits smiling me.

- Karla Kuskin

If you stood with your feet in the earth
Up to your ankles in grass
And your arms had leaves running over them
And every once in a while one of your leafy fingers
Was nudged by a bird flying past,
If the skin that covers you from top to tip
Wasn't skin at all, but bark
And you never moved your feet from their place
In the earth
But stood rooted in that one spot come
Then you would be me:
A tree.

- Karla Kuskin


Three wishes
The first
A tree:
Dark bark
Green leaves
Under a bit of blue
A canopy
To glimpse sky through
To watch sun sift through
To catch light rain
Upon the leaves
And let it fall again.
A place to put my eye
Beyond the window frame.

Wish two:
A chair
Not hard or high
One that fits comfortably
Set by the window tree
An island in the room
For me
My own
Place to sit and be

My tree
Here my chair,
Rain, sky, sun.
All my wishes
All the things I need
But one
Wish three:
A book to read.

- Karla Kuskin


  1. Beautiful selection of karla Kuskin's poems. I especially love the middle one. And congratulations to Amy for winning the Cybils award. I am not the least bit surprised! Happy Valentine's Day!

  2. I really like the concrete poem. Wow, she did that well!

  3. I don't think I can pick a favorite-- these are all such wonderful poems! Trees make such special valentines, too... so perfectly huggable. Happy Valentine's Day, Irene!

  4. I'm with Doraine, these are all great poems, but the concrete one blows me away! What a talent!
    Happy Valentine's Day!

  5. Well, it looks like I have company for loving that middle poem especially so. And how wonderful for Amy!

  6. Oh, Irene! Tree valentines! Thank you so much for judging, for liking FOREST, and for celebrating with these leafy friends. Karla's poems are beautiful teachers. Happy Valentine's Day to you and yours. xo

  7. Love these tree poems, especially the ending of the first one (probably because I spent much of my childhood perched in a tree...) Thanks for sharing these.

  8. You know I love Karla Kuskin, Irene. What a Valentine for everyone! Each one is a treasure, isn't it? Love "The apples hurry out". Like Amy said, Karla Kuskin is a teacher! Thank you!

  9. Thank you for this feast of Karla Kuskin's poetry. I plan to know more of her poetry this year. She seems to be quite the lady. Congratulations too to Amy! :)

  10. This was a sweet collection of poems. If I had to pick a favorite, it would probably be the last one. I love the image of sitting by the window with a book, and with a tree framed in the window. I guess it reminds me of where I sit to write.

  11. Trees are a wonderful subject and very deserving of valentines! Thanks for sharing these old favorites.


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