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    abstract style illustration of pine needles and branches

    Poem: “Wreathmaking”

    By Forester McClatchey

    September 14, 2021
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    This poem was a finalist for Plough’s 2021 Rhina Espaillat Poetry Award.


    The hard, dark berries, blue as black
    snakes are blue, befogged with newness, clench
    their pips in scaly tufts of green, each branch
    an elenchus of logic, a spray of craze, an attack

    on soft fingers walking through them, your
    fingers calling shape from the bedlam of life
    with brutal twists of form. You flick the knife
    to smooth a stem, a cedar stem; its fur

    heaps greenly on your shoes, as if you’d skinned
    a wooly tree, not trimmed it, to make a wreath.
    Completed circle, made of endings, shaped

    to hint what never ends, it tricks and bends
    the eye to green forevers, clever deaths
    of death, where girls and berries do escape.


    Watch Forester McClatchey read his poem at the first annual Rhina Espaillat Poetry Award ceremony.

    abstract style illustration of pine needles and branches

    Eyvind Earle, Pine Branch, gouache, 1955 © 2021 Eyvind Earle Publishing. Used by permission.

    Contributed By Forester McClatchey

    Forester McClatchey is a poet and critic from Atlanta, Geor­gia. He teaches at Atlanta Classical Academy, and his poetry appears in Oxford Poetry, the Hopkins Review, Pleiades, Slice, and Birmingham Poetry Review, among other journals. He won the 2019 Gulf Stream Summer Poetry Competition and was a 2017 finalist in the American Literary Review poetry competition.

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