“Large windows strike a pleasant note but, remarkably,

no chimneys can be seen . . . Chimneys . . . were often wood

. . . Snow, manure, vinegar, damp cloths, urine were all

used to squelch the flames ... A basket for wood is empty.”

Sharon Olds, in The Unswept Room: orb of a tree in

bonsai forest of muscular triangulated kiss among

friends; her mother’s face “sprouting twigs” like Lavinia’s

hands; even for the aborted, holy at one with their

homelessness, a place from which when her daughter

had to leave, flee the nest, she had to let her;

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul

that otherness of candle scent (spruce, poplar) through

hardwood floor as it segued into the notes of chamber

music at a friend’s house, Grösse Fuge; the way notes

of a child crying in Church almost blend with those of the organist

at eleven o’clock Mass or an invalid coughing complements

the hesitation of her visitor to say too much for fear of saying

the wrong thing; her need to untangle rabbit hair as semened

limbs from thorns of seminal disbelief: ecstatic as the green

of trees that leaps in faith to the straw bonnets of those who fish

from a lake or river and sleeps, ecstatic where trees are said

to “bend down along the ground and yet stand.” 0 Sharon, oh rose

of Sharon, I believe the pollen of every flower that has blossomed

is caught in your mouth and every opening or crevice of your

body. I believe you wear it like lipstick and eye shadow.

I believe you use it—like Poison Ivy in Batman Returns

to cast a spell. I believe you were married in a church

of wood. I believe anything and everything you say

about yourself. So don’t lie to me, Rose

of Sharon. I could never believe you are wooden.