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Posts Tagged ‘tree’

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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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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after her funeral

hanging her ornaments

on the evergreen

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On the last day of the world, I would want to plant a tree.

            —W. S. Merwin

 

 

On the last day of the world, I would want

to feed you. Raspberries. Thin slices of apple.

Peaches so ripe they drip down our chins,

down our necks. I would want to sit with you

beneath a tree, no we’ll climb a tree, no

we’ll plant a tree, yes all of these. On the last

day of the world, I want to give myself permission

to feel exactly what I feel, to be exactly who I am,

to shed every layer of should and meet you

that way. Knowing we have only hours left,

could we put down our arguments with ourselves

and each other and find no energy to pick them up again?

On that day, I want us to write the last poem

together and let the writing undo us, let it teach us

how to get out of the way, how to obey what emerges.

Let’s run outside, no matter the weather, and praise

the light till the light is gone, and then praise the dark.

 

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You have to be able to imagine lives that aren’t yours.

            —Wendell Berry

 

 

And so today I’m the cottonwood

in the yard, the one we planted twenty years ago,

the one my son used to climb,

the one that we hang bird feeders from, and pinatas,

the one that even now is losing its leaves,

and I imagine standing there year after year,

fall after fall, now after endless now.

What is now for a tree? How different

is now from infinity? I imagine being

my own soaring cathedral, my roots

always thirsting, my wood growing

to seal my wounds, my branches

always chasing the light.

 

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Cotton

 

 

It’s easier, perhaps, to understand the acorn.

A shell. A cap. Something tender inside

with the potential to grow a great oak.

 

But cotton? Harder to understand the tiny seeds

wrapped in white gossamer strands—

tiny parachutes that slip through hands.

 

So few survive, but those that do

live a hundred years and grow faster

than any other American tree.

 

They’re like ideas—weightless. Able

to travel long distances. Mostly disposable,

but then once in a while,

 

one of the 25 million seeds

released by a tree will take root.

I’ve felt it happen inside me—

 

how it starts so small. How quickly

it grows, changes the landscape. How soon

you can’t imagine the world any other way.

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