From a Window

By Christian Wiman

Incurable and unbelieving
In any truth but the truth of grieving,

I saw a tree inside a tree
Rise kaleidoscopically

As if the leaves had livelier ghosts.
I pressed my face as close

To the pane as I could get
To watch that fitful, fluent spirit

That seemed a single being undefined
Or countless beings of one mind

Haul its strange cohesion
Beyond the limits of my vision

Over the house heavenwards.
Of course I knew those leaves were birds.

Of course that old tree stood
Exactly as it had and would

(But why should it seem fuller now?)
And though a man’s mind might endow

Even a tree with some excess
Of life to which a man seems witness,

That life is not the life of men.
And that is where the joy came in.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/07/from-a-window/306866/