Arts & Leisure

Poet’s Corner: The unending dance

Common Ancestors

By Buffy Aakaash


These forests

This mountain

These trees

So many trees

So many lives

Lifetimes ago

So many deaths

As many rebirths

Why this unavoidable end

This incontrovertible sorrow

This leaf in the wind

Without seed or roots?

Around this tree

We embrace all trees

All disembodies leaves

These flying crawling creatures

We embrace ourselves

Ourselves so many trees

So many roots

Finding home in the soil

Wisdom in the sun

New life in our branches

All our relations swirling forever—

A primordial soup

A sylvan broth

Or forest phantoms

And felicitous nymphs




This poem was first published in the anthology “Into the Light,” summer 2021.

Growing up around hills and lakes in New Jersey west of New York City, Buffy Aakaash has since lived as a queer man in cities and rural towns throughout the U.S. His poems have been published by Sweety Cat Press, Main Street Rag and Dissonance Magazine, among others. “Untangling the Knots,” his chapbook of “How To” poems, will be published by Kelsay Books in November of 2022. Currently he resides in Vermont’s Green Mountains with his four-legged companion, Bodhi. His work can be viewed at






This poem feels to me like a whirl through a forest and its seasons, like a beautiful sylvan dance. It feels like Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” mythical and real at the same time. The tongue dances in the mouth when these lines are read, the body starts to move — like the trees and branches the poem sings of. Like the dance that life is.

I feel in the first lines of the poem a sense of wandering, maybe even overwhelm. A wondering at the why of it all. So many deaths and rebirths. So many lost leaves in the wind. Then some focus arrives: Around this tree we embrace all trees, writes the poet. If we can embrace one, we can embrace all, including ourselves. Ourselves so many trees.

In the poem’s second half, I sense a different tone, one of slowing, of rooting, of finding home. And with that an embrace of our whole self, of all our relations — human and not — swirling about us in the forest of this life. Sometimes as we root in place, we begin to branch out in new and beautiful ways and touch more than we’d ever anticipated. We join the dance of life more fully.

Susan Jefts is a poet and editor from the Adirondacks and Vermont, whose poems have been published in numerous journals and anthologies. She runs workshops using poetry to deepen our experiences in nature, and of what we find sacred.

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