Transpiration by Karen Paul Holmes


There is nothing wrong with a slow heartbeat
in trees. A pulse once every two hours pumps
water—like our blood—from roots to crown.
Botanists know this now, have measured it:
I don’t need to put my ear to trunk, like I laid
my head on your scarred chest, listening for its
rhythm, trying not to fret over stalled thumps,
not wanting to tell you, trusting the docs who
cut you and kept your meter adagio with meds,
your blood thin, its tension down. Trees throb
to keep water pressure in their xylem, and I’d
like to believe you surge there too, drawn up
from clay to sweetgums thriving in my yard,
their leaves opening and opening into stars.


Karen Paul Holmes has two poetry collections, No Such Thing as Distance (Terrapin, 2018) and Untying the Knot (Aldrich, 2014). Her poems have been featured on The Writer’s Almanac and The Slowdown. Publications include Diode, Valparaiso Review, Verse Daily, and Prairie Schooner. She’s the current “Poet Laura” for Tweetspeak Poetry.

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