"The Pruned Tree" is one of the first poems I ever read from my treasured book of Howard Moss poetry. Lines were immediately underlined, and comments written in the margins.
Moss offers a beautiful, optimistic view of loss. It may strike a resonant chord with anyone who has been cut back, put down in life, lost a loved one, lost a job, or has rid themselves of old ideas or cherished beliefs. As you read the poem for the first time, some of the personified lines in the poem may awaken such an instant recognition of their truth that I dare you to stay silent as you read. It is nearly impossible. [Personification: when an object takes on human charactaristics such as when the tree says, "I am made more beautiful by losses"].
The Pruned Tree
by Howard Moss
As a torn paper might seal up its side,
Or a streak of water stitch itself to silk
And disappear, my wound has been my healing,
And I am made more beautiful by losses.
See the flat water in the distance nodding
Approval, the light that fell in love with statues,
Seeing me alive, turns its motion toward me.
Shorn, I rejoice in what was taken from me.
What can the moonlight do with my new shape
But trace and retrace its miracle of order?
I stand, waiting for the strange reaction
Of insects who knew me in my larger self,
Unkempt, in a naturalness I did not love.
Even the dog's voice rings with a new echo,
And all the little leaves I shed are singing,
Singing to the moon of shapely newness.
Somewhere what I lost I hope is springing
To life again. The roofs, astonished by me,
Are taking new bearings in the night, the owl
Is crying for a further wisdom, the lilac
Putting forth its strongest scent to find me.
Butterflies, like sails in grooves, are winging
out of the water to wash me, wash me.
Now, I am stirring like a seed in China.