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Circe Maia’s poem, “Trees,” was translated from the Spanish by Jesse Lee Kercheval, and was published in Michigan Quarterly Review’s Summer 2019 issue.

After a short walk, we discover, with astonishment, a place unmoving and cold: in an area irregularly circular the trees are all dry. The branches now without a single leaf or with dying leaves, blackish or grey, a total absence of green or murmurs. What has happened here? It’s common to see, sometimes, a tree charred by a lightning strike or downed by some strong wind, sometimes not completely fallen. They remain semi-uprooted, leaning on others. Here it is not like that: it’s a company of trees, and all are undoubtedly dead. Some mysterious plant disease? The truth is that the whole place produces, at once, repulsion and fascination. If you sit down on a ruined trunk and support your head against another also inert, the silence and the immobility would enter thought itself, the tides of consciousness quiet, and if you were there like that for long, as if slipping, you would fall toward who knows where.

A sudden impulse, a secret order, makes us leave there as rapidly as
possible, without looking back.

Translated from the Spanish
by Jesse Lee Kercheval

Purchase Michigan Quarterly Review’s Summer 2019 Issue to read more.