beech tree
American Beech, Burnet Woods, March 2015

Another 7×7 poem (seven lines, seven syllables per line.) This one inspired by endings—of seasons, of eras.

Sometimes we hold on too hard;
cling to what should be released—
old, winter-worn, transparent
from time and weather, rattled,
beaten, tattered— it’s hard to
let the familiar fall
away, let new growth emerge

Note: Marcescence is a botanical term that refers to trees that retain withered leaves over the winter. Beeches and some oaks are among the trees that cling to old dead leaves. Though there are several theories, there doesn’t seem to be agreement on why this happens. One school of thought is that beeches and other marcescent trees are still evolving from evergreen to deciduous, caught forever betwixt and between. (I’ve felt that way sometimes, too.)

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Elaine Olund

I'm a writer, artist and designer who thinks way too much, and tries to see the beauty in the world.

6 thoughts on “marcescence”

  1. Elaine: I’m the editor for our local newspaper in North Oaks, MN, and have just written an article for our December issue about the ecological phenomenon of marcescence. I came across your poem while doing my research, and I just love the way you capture these sentiments with the natural/biological theory as a backdrop. Could I publish your poem, with full accreditation, along with my article? Thank you for your consideration, Gretchen

    1. Hi Gretchen, Sure, I’d love for you to share that. If the article appears online, I’d appreciate if you’d comment back with a link! I would love to read it. Thanks for visiting and reading!

      1. Hi Elaine: We’ve published the paper that includes your poem, and I’d like to send you a copy. Would you send your address to me at If the piece is picked up by our online version, I’ll send you that link. Best, Gretchen

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