Friday, September 16, 2016

Birch Tree--By Marianne Szlyk--United States

Birch Tree

For every crape myrtle or towering magnolia we gain,
we lose one birch tree:

The slender stroke of titanium white
among the muddy browns and greens of summer;

The backbend held above the vernal pool
bitter with generations of oak leaves

The leaves, yellow or green, dance
like wind chimes over the insects’ drone;

The taste of birch beer—
afternoons spent foraging for wintergreen

following trails uphill
away from houses and highways

puzzling over stone walls and apple trees
in the woods that no one seemed to own.

Previously published at The Literary Nest.

Marianne Szlyk is the editor of The Song Is... , an associate poetry editor at Potomac Review, and a professor of English at Montgomery College. Her second chapbook, I Dream of Empathy, was published by Flutter Press. Her poems have appeared in a variety of online and print venues, including Silver Birch Press, Cactifur, Of/with, bird's thumb, Truck, Algebra of Owls, The Blue Mountain Review, and Yellow Chair Review. Her first chapbook is available (for free) through Kind of a Hurricane Press:          


  1. a very nice tribute to the birch tree. Is there really such a thing as birch beer?
    Thank you Marinne. I enjoyed your poem.

  2. loved picturing this peaceful scene

  3. Thank you, Jack and Mary Jo. Yes, birch beer is probably more of a Northeastern drink. It's like root beer only lighter. I remember it being clear, but it can also be brown or red. I wonder if anyone makes a diet version! Here is an article about Pennsylvania's version of birch beer:

  4. Hi Marianne,

    I enjoyed your poem about the birch tree there used to be so many of them around where I live but not anymore unless I go up north.

    Your last 5 lines I could relate to; spending afternoons doing the exact same thing. Thank you for sharing.


    1. Thank you very much, Sandra. Oddly enough I have seen birch trees in North Carolina, which is another poem!!

  5. Your poem was a lovely escape, Marianne:
    It does set your mind to wondering when you find abandoned gardens or, in many cases, just a chimney standing. Best,
    Suzanne Delaney

    1. Thank you very much, Suzanne. :) These ruins certainly do set one's mind to wandering. Many of the woods in New England were once pastures, I belive.