Saturday, April 29, 2017

April 29th: Elm Trees in Detroit

I've been reading poems about nature with my eighth graders, and since we live in the city, I'm always on the lookout for great nature poems set in urban environments.  I love this one, by Marge Piercy, and it works well with some reading we did when they were in seventh grade about a guy who worked with elm trees.


It starts like this:

The streets of Detroit were lined with elms
I remember elm trees that were
the thing of beauty on grimy
smoke-bleared streets stinking of death
and garbage, but over the cramped
rotting houses, the elms arched.

They were cities of leaves.
I would lie under them
and my eyes would rise
buoyed up and surfeited
in immense rustling viridescence. 

Here's the rest of the poem.

My son, who is also one of my students right now, enjoys that word "viridescence," and many days he uses it as we walk to school and pass the things of beauty on the "grimy smoke-bleared streets" that are the trees of our neighborhood (not elms, but lovely tropical plants).  I love the "cities of leaves"; I love looking up at them and away from trash and rats and mud and whatever else is at my feet on any given day.  

Here's a sad article about what happened to Detroit's elms.

Charles has today's line in the Progressive Poem.

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