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Posts Tagged ‘tree’

From the Cottonwood

I want to hear the song in the old cottonwood tree

outside my window, the tired xylem, the weary phloem,

the rough hymn of the ancient bark. I want to know

how, despite fatigue, it continues to flourish,

to push new cells through the tips of the twigs,

how it thickens despite long drought.

I want to hear the dark lullaby of the worms

as they move through the loyal roots—

what do they know of persistence?

And the dappld shadow that continues to grow,

what might it teach me of love?

Let me be the student of the limbs

that broke off in the wind. Let me listen

and listen again. There is too much

I think I know. I’ve been singing the same

familiar songs so long I began to believe

they were gospel. Oh, how I’ve loved the psalms of green.

Let me sing them while they last. And then, may I learn

to love the song of emptiness, song of surrender,

song of whatever comes next.

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Learning

Today the shadows

teach me to love

what is dim,

the sweet respite

of obscurity

when the sun

is too much

and a tree

yields its shape

so that I might slip

my clumsy heat

out of the bounds

of the vertical world

and find instead

a cool dark pool

on the ground,

as if I’m a boat

that has discovered

at last

a slim calm eddy

in which I might rest.

This is perhaps

the way we start

to meet our deaths—

sliding into the relief

of these dark, quiet

channels.

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I invite you to fall down. Fall down to the earth.

Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, “Darkness is Asking to Be Loved,” Lion’s Roar

 

 

Today, I am fallen tree.

I am deadwood.

Surrender. I am

don’t-try-to-rise.

 

Today is a day to know

what it is to fall,

to be felled, to stay fallen.

To say nothing.

 

Today I am grateful

for gravity that insists,

Don’t try. I don’t try.

I lose any certainty

 

of where my body ends,

where earth begins,
lose myself in dark, loamy scent

of disturbed and open dirt.

 

There will be a day

to rise, to stand, to grow

new leaves that gather shine,

to share. But today is a day

 

to lie on the ground

and lean into loss,

say yes to confusion.

to be torn apart, to listen,

 

to know the only way

to start again is from here.

 

 

 

 

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Respiratory

IMG_5998

This morning, after the blizzard,

after the sun came out,

there was a moment when the shadows

of the empty cottonwood trees

patterned the snow like tree-sized lungs—

the trunk was a bronchus,

and the branches, bronchioles

that split into twiggish alveoli.

And the tree seemed to say, Remember.

I often neglect to be grateful

for lungs, for breath—

such a simple, forgettable gift.

But in the dividing silhouette,

I saw into myself, a divine branching,

an inner tree, an invitation

to sit and breathe. Remember, it seemed

to say, and I followed the lines until

they disappeared into the light.

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Gratitude

IMG_5952

 

 

Gratitude, it happens,

needs less room to grow

than one might think—

is able to find purchase

on even the slenderest

of ledges, is able

to seed itself

in even the poorest of soils.

 

Just today, I marveled

as a small gratitude

took root

in the desert of me—

like a juniper tree

growing out of red rock.

 

If I hadn’t felt it myself,

I might not

have believed it—

but it’s true,

one small thankfulness

can slip into an arid despair

and with it comes

a change in the inner landscape,

the scent of evergreen.

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IMG_0984

 

When it was a branch

on the cottonwood tree,

the driftwood never imagined

it could travel—

and now look at it, softened,

smoothed, riding the current.

Oh heart, what have you

yet to imagine?

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Docetaxel

 

The yew can live to be over two thousand years old—

a sacred tree that grows large enough for forty people

 

to stand inside it. Today, its ancient power fits

in a clear plastic bag the size of two fists and it drips

 

through a clear plastic tube into the chest of my friend.

In three days, she will not want to move. She will not

 

want to eat. She will wonder if it’s all worth it.

It will last a week. So strange that a plant

 

that causes death when consumed will help

to save her life. Her hair has been gone for weeks.

 

But today, on her last day of chemo, I marvel

at how she is being infused with evergreen

 

in the hopes that she will transmogrify, carry

in her the mystery that grows in the bark of the tree.

 

When a yew branch touches the ground, it takes root.

Sprouts again. Let her body know this secret. Amen.

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Even then she was becoming

a dreamer, a lover of bark,

a student of solitude. Even then

she noticed how there were places

and moods that words couldn’t touch—

even then she felt the joy in trying anyway.

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Invitation

 

 

 

The day dares me to become a tree,

dares me to root, to stay in one place,

to choose this here, to plant myself in this now,

to stretch down even as I reach up.

 

But there are gusts in me, and wild squalls,

whirling impulses that swirl and spin

and whisper to me to be current, be flow.

Winds in me that says go, darling, go.

 

And the day says stay to me. The day

says, find evergreen in the moment.

The day offers me its ground, its generous soil.

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For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.

—T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”

 

 

So let me speak this year in leaf,

and let me speak in stem.

Give me photosynthetic nouns

and algal interjections.

Let my syntax be made of phloem,

let my phonemes be blades of grass.

May all my conjunctions produce oxygen

may my prepositions be moss.

And let me mostly listen

with ears attuned to soil and root

And when I have words, let them be living,

may only the kindest words bear fruit.

 

 

 

 

 

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