Poetry from Aelita Klausmeier

A landscape of fir trees encased in fog

Photo: Dave Michuda


They’re cutting down the Christmas trees one
by one, dressed in their red and blue jackets
like toy men watching toy trees topple
into damp grass as if in slow motion.
They hoist them up, strong bodies with
strong arms, tie them in neon orange plastic
and load them into the backs of shiny trucks.
They had worked all morning, and now the clouds
are stretched low across the sky like strips of
gauze, but there is no promise of snow.
In the forest behind the shed, animal tracks
and children’s boot prints, indistinguishable
from one another, clotting the frozen mud.
They had been here yesterday at different times,
the sounds of many feet and of laughter deadened
by the silence of the trees. The children, left to their
own devices, had taken to tormenting the strange fish-
faced boy, had tied him to a pine with nylon rope and
left him to grow cold. They found him later that evening,
face wide and pale in the moonlight. He wouldn’t speak.
He thought of the family of deer that he had seen earlier,
of their manifold hooves running through the trees.
As his parents wept, talked to him, wrapped him in wool
scarves, he thought of the cold numinosity of the stars,
and of the wail of a faraway freight train, a sound like
there was a god buried inside the earth.

Aelita Klausmeier is a poet currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in mathematics at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Her work has been awarded the Academy of American Poets College Prize and the Jeffrey L. Weisberg Memorial Prize, and has appeared in several university journals and anthologies.

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