"The Bride Tree Can't Be Read" by Brenda Hillman was offered by Poets.org's Poem-A-Day on October 28, 2013. A link to the poem, including the poet's notes, may be found here:
Brenda Hillman (b. 1951) holds the Olivia Filippi Chair in Poetry at St. Mary's College in Moraga, California. She is the author of numerous volumes of poetry and winner of many awards, most recently the Academy of American Poets Fellowship. Critics have described her poetry as "eclectic and mercurial." A detailed biography may be found here:
I agree with the critics who describe Mrs. Hillman's work as "eclectic and mercurial" and admit that I find "The Bride" difficult to understand. However, I'll take a stab at it, stanza by stanza. There are four stanzas of six lines each.
The first stanza introduces the "bride tree" metaphor. It puts down roots, yet it is its branches that reach "the planet heart." This may mean that the longing/urge/drive to find a mate is universal among all living things.
The second stanza ends with "the ambulance of art." What a nice turn of phrase! It may mean that art (poetry) has the ability to capture the mysteries of life.
The third stanza refers again to the metaphor of the bride tree with its use of the words "dress" (bridal gown) and "tree in the dream you wore."
The final stanza introduces "rhizomes," spreading and presumably giving off shoots at intervals. Perhaps this is a metaphor for the inter-connectiveness of all life.
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