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Limen By Natasha Trethewey

February 11, 2001

All day I've listened to the industry

of a single woodpecker, worrying the catalpa tree

just outside my window. Hard at his task,

his body is a hinge, a door knocker

to the cluttered house of memory in which

I can almost see my mother's face.

She is there, again, beyond the tree,

its slender pods and heart-shaped leaves,

hanging wet sheets on the line--each one

a thin white screen between us. So insistent

is this woodpecker, I'm sure he must be

looking for something else--not simply

the beetles and grubs inside, but some other gift

the tree might hold. All day he's been at work,

tireless, making the green hearts flutter.

FROM NEW ENGLAND REVIEW

From "The Best American Poetry 2000," edited by Rita Dove (Scribner Poetry: 286 pp., $30)

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