Poets Walk: "Whereas"

Poets Walk: "Whereas"

Location on Poets Walk Map: Band O


The Emancipation Proclamation, by William Heyen


Whereas it minds its own mind

& lives in its one place so faithfully

& its trunk supports us when we lean against it

& its branches remind us of how we think

Whereas it keeps no bank account but hoards carbon

& does not discriminate between starlings & robins

& provides free housing for insects & squirrels

& lifts its heartwood grave into the air

Whereas it holds our firmament in place

& writes underground gospel with its roots

& whispers us oxygen with its leaves

& so far survives our new climate of ultraviolet

Whereas it & its kind when we meet beneath them

shade our sorrows & temper our prayers

& their colors evoke our dream of beauty

from before we were born into this hereafter

We the people for ourselves & our children

necessarily proclaim this tree

free from commerce & belonging to itself

as long as it & we shall live.


William Heyen, "Emancipation Proclamation" from Pterodactyl Rose: Poems of Ecology (St. Louis, MO: Time Being Books, 1991). Used by permission of the author.