Two Sequoias

  • Poetry & Prose

Two Sequoias

Paul John Sauerteig
Columbia College

My father said that growing up,

He would watch videos;

His friends would show him videos

Of wet women, sad women

Played with by men:

Shiny women with no hair,

Oiled women who lived on their knees,

Greatly pleasing, condemned to please,

On well-lit screens, young

and without smell.


I know no such women.

I don’t think those videos

Would please me:

For what woman has no hair?

And what woman has no smell?

I, a man, have smells;

Hot smells at running,

Sharp smells in the morning.

Discreet, quiet smells

During the day.

I love these smells;

They prove to me -

As does the hair on my arms,

On my chin, on my back,

Wispy even on my hands –

It all proves to me that I thrive.

That is, there was an old tree,

A sycamore, in our back yard growing up.

My father would point it out to me and say,

“You see how there’s no leaves?

When nothing grows, and spurts, it’s dead.”


I ask again, what woman has no hair?

I look in the mirror and take in with relish

The skin of my belly, the blue veins

Running in my wrists, taking good blood

From the whites of my fingernails

To the heart between my eyebrows.

It is all excellent; the damp mouthfeel

In the morning, and the must

Of unwashed hair. In the mirror,

I am a sequoia.

And when I am with the woman I love,

I trace the down fuzz, the sparse bumps

On her back. I smell the heady wax

Of her hair, and I touch the single

Chickenpox ever-so-small crater

On her forehead. She is not mine;

As I am not hers; but I know her smells,

And she is familiar with my life,

And it is so good when

The wind blows our branches together.