Daniel Recktenwald

What happened to you then is over now.
And unlike it, you are not over yet.
As you outlived it without knowing how,
you'll remember. That means you can forget.

See the apple tree—where the gray bird sings?
Be now like all the newly fruited trees
with droughts and fires attested in their rings.
The toughened core upholds extremities
so green and tender, a sigh would move them.
Stand with trees, who don't say See how I stand?
Their shade recommends, their sap approves them.
To Winter's weakest light, they raise their hands.

Go find a tree too large for your embrace
(do this in spring) then touch its smallest leaves.
How far—its newness, from the part that grieves.
Though grief hold in your heartwood its hard place,
be seed, and grain, and layer latest grown,
that all of what's touched you be felt and known
by your touching others—and by how.
The only worth in any pain you've met
is living to say that it's over now
and unlike it, you are not over yet.


Daniel Recktenwald was born in Louisville, KY. He double-majored in English and German at the University of Louisville and studied at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany. After earning an MA in German Literature at UW-Madison and a Master of Arts in Teaching at U of L, Recktenwald began teaching in 1998. Certified in English, German and Theatre Arts, he worked in secondary schools in Kentucky, Florida, and Tennessee. Along the way, his stories appeared in Negative Capability and The Thinker, his poems in The Journal of Kentucky Studies. His one-act play, "The Leap," was produced at Carnegie-Mellon University's 2005 Playground festival. In 2007, three of his 90-second plays were produced as part of Specific Gravity Ensemble's Elevator Plays: Ascent-Descent/Assent-Dissent. In 2014, Recktenwald left teaching, re-settled in Louisville (where he is now an office worker), and re-focused his writing exclusively on poetry.

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