89 Readings | 2 Ratings

Quercus velutina

I


This tree is perfectly still above me like a

meditating saint, not slapping at the ants

crawling over her.  Laughing at my vanity.

 

The heart wood is lightless, damp, nourished

by  roots pulling up and leaves pulling down.

 

We sacrifice this simplicity of direction

in order to lift our feet off the ground

without dying.

   

II

 

All the trees turn passerine in the night,

their roots swallow tailed, their leaves

feathery.  In the shush of day’s opening

they lift with awkward flapping in a great

train and the sky, full of the labial

blues of their passing, sees prairie below,

already looking rootless and vintage.

 

 III

 

Like cordwood stacked beneath a tarp for winter,

I consider the benefits of storage, of inaction

followed by a brief December flare.

 

I long for an earthward momentum, something

to twist my body like a cat’s landing

assuredly.  Nothing

cat-like is imparted to me.  I fall

as a human body would.  Limp.  Akimbo.

 

IV

 I am so tired. My dreams wear me out, my body

lies awkwardly, my hands tear and

scratch at my skin as I sleep.

 

I can only mistake the vireo’s

liquid note shower—it leaks

the iodine red stain the forest

ghosts trail behind them.

 

When it rained on the oak,

it did not rain on me, here

beneath the oak.  My hands

are dry, my hair sticks

to the bark I lean against

and rain travels down its stair

of leaf and leaf and leaf.

Posted 09/07/14
Originally published in the Santa Clara Review,Vol. 100, No. 2. Spring 2013
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