Sanitarium on the Wissahickon
There is a stretch on the Wissahickon “with some of the most magnificent forest trees of America, among them which stands conspicuous the liriodendron tulipiferum,” Poe wrote. When I ask a local arborist about a shoreline which might host a dense population of the tulip poplar, I am told this tree is abundant throughout the Wissahickon Valley. Nonetheless, I suspect a profusion of them along the rock out-croppings south of Poe’s entry point. The tulip poplar may exceed 120 feet in height and has been known to live 450 years. I begin to suspect these may be the same trees Poe admired and that I am now in their company just as he was in theirs.
This piece is an excerpt from "Sanitarium on the Wissahickon," an essay originally published in the Edgar Allan Poe Review. It also appeared in the collection, On Location, Essays of Place, (Echo Arcade, 2014).
Michael Gessner has authored 11 books of poetry and prose. His work may be found in The American Journal of Poetry, American Literary Review, The French Literary Review, The Kenyon Review, North American Review, Oxford Magazine, Poetry Quarterly (forthcoming,) rue des Beaux-Arts (Paris,) Verse Daily, The Yale Review of Humanities in Medicine, and others. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/michael-gessner or https://www.michaelgessner.com/
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