This week’s poem, Sally Bliumis-Dunn’s “Birches,” conjures the scars that look like eyes in the trees’ white bark. I love how this poem zooms in on stirringly sentient imagery of the birches, and how it then zooms in on the speaker herself – as seen through the trees’ own eyes.

Bliumis-Dunn teaches modern poetry at Manhattanville College and the Palm Beach Poetry Festival. Her poems have appeared in New Ohio Review, The Paris Review and Prairie Schooner, among other venues. Her third full-length collection, “Echolocation,” was published by Plume Editions/Madhat Press in 2018. She lives in Harpswell.

Poets, please note that submissions to Deep Water are open through the end of the year. Deep Water is especially eager to share poems by Black writers, writers of color, Indigenous writers, LGBTQ writers and other underrepresented voices. You’ll find a link to submit in the credits below.

By Sally Bliumis-Dunn

I walk the rough stone driveway
and from their long white trunks
brighter than winter air

I sense their dark eyes watching,
motionless, without judgment
as when taking something fully in.


I know these eyes are wounds
healed over or scars from branches fallen.
And I know the language between us

is untranslatable
But for the entire three-mile hike
I sense their eyes behind me

holding me as I might hold
an over-full glass of water,
meniscus trembling

in the white winter sky
as they look with great precision
measure me as I grow smaller

by the mailbox, letter in my hand.
And though at a great distance
I can feel them taking in

the loops and dips in the black script
of the address and its return
as I might observe without distinction

the wreaths of moss around their trunks
if I were focusing on something else
or everything at once.

Megan Grumbling is a poet and writer who lives in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. “Birches,” copyright 2018 by Sally Bliumis-Dunn, originally appeared in Echolocation (Plume Editions/Madhat). It appears by permission of the author. Submissions to Deep Water are open now and through the end of the year. For more information, go to

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