I sit inside, doors open to the veranda
writing long letters
in which I scarcely mention the departure
of the forest from the house.
The night is fresh, the whole moon shines
in a sky still open
the smell of leaves and lichen
still reaches like a voice into the rooms.
The poet, being a very eco-centric person, does not advocate trapping trees inside enclosed spaces. It appears that, like the trees, she also prefers open spaces. She exhibits the feeling of being trapped in a closed sphere. All over the world, it is not only trees that are exploited, it is also women. Rich being vocal about the abuse and domination happening around the world against nature and women seems to emphasise that we need to take an action plan.
Rich is also staying indoors, just like the trees. The trees try to get out of their confined spaces by extending their roots longer into outer space. They try their best to somehow see and expose themselves to the world outside. Similarly, Rich does her best to have a glimpse and take a breath of freedom by opening the doors of her verandah. The little space and air that comes into her house through the door is her tiny experience of freedom. She does not sit there idle, rather she sits there writing letters. Letters are also her connection to the outer world. People write letters as a means to express themselves. The readers do not know to whom the letters are addressed, but it is evident that she feels it to be a liberating experience. But she says she does not mention the departure of the trees from the greenhouse in the letter. The reason might be that she wants the trees to move out of the house, as unlike her, at least they get to experience freedom.
She wrote letters
The readers also get to know that it is nighttime when the poet writes it. She can see a full moon, as the night is fresh. The night is also welcoming the trees' departure from the house. She also says that the sky is open, giving us a picture of a roofless house, where the sky is vast with the moon shining brightly. She says that the trace of trees can still be there even after them leaving gradually. Their presence is experienced with the smell of leaves and lichens. She says that the smell appears more like a voice in the rooms, indicating that the trees have finally found a voice to gain their freedom.
Lichen on a tree
Meaning of difficult words:
ScarcelyVery rarely doing a thing
DepartureTo leave a place
Eco-centricInterested and working for nature
DominationControlling or exerting power
LiberatingTo feel free
GreenhouseA small space that is enclosed to grow plants
LichenA yellow algae that grow on rocks and surfaces
IdleNot doing any work
National Council of Educational Research and Training (2006). Beehive. The Trees - Adrienne Rich (pp. 99-101). Published at the Publication Division by the Secretary, National Council of Educational Research and Training, Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi.