What I Know for Sure, Part 2



"What I Know for Sure," by Bob Hicok
Some people, told of witness trees,
pause in chopping a carrot
or loosening a lug nut and ask,
witness to what? So while salad
is made, or getting from A to B
is repaired, these people
listen to the story of the Burnside Bridge sycamore,
alive at Antietam, bloodiest day of the war,
or the Appomattox Court House
honey locust, just coming to leaf
as Lee surrendered, and say, at the end,
Cool.
Then the chopping
continues with its two sounds,
the slight snap to the separation
of carrot from carrot, the harder crack
of knife against cutting board,
or the sigh, also slight, of a lug nut
as it's tightened against a wheel. In time,
these people put their hands
under water and say,

not so much to you but to the window in front of the sink,
Think of all the things trees have seen. Then it's time
for dinner, or to leave, and a month passes,
or a year, before two fawns
cross in front of the car, or the man
you've just given a dollar to
lifts his shirt to the start
of the 23rd psalm tattooed
to his chest, "The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want," when some people
say, I feel like one of those trees,
you know? And you do know.
You make a good salad, change
a wicked tire, you're one of those people,
watching, listening, a witness
to whatever this is,
for as long as it is
amazing, isn't it, that I could call you
right now and say, They still
can't talk to dolphins
but are closer, as I still
can't say everything I want to
but am closer, for trying, to God,

if you must, to spirit, if you will,
to what's never easy
for people like us:
life, breath, the sheer volume
of wonder.


{Bob Hicok is the author of This Clumsy Living (University of Pittsburgh Press) and associate professor of English at Virginia Tech. Poem found in current issue of O Magazine and on Oprah.com. Gorgeous prints are from Cory Kindred.}

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