Thursday, December 08, 2005

if trees could speak, they wouldn't

My therapist is always reminding me that nature is inefficient—you never hear a plant say, “I didn’t go jogging this morning. I am such an unworthy plant.” Not just because plants don’t have legs, but because they’re cool with who they are: beings that bask in the sun for as long as there is sun.

Or as
Dorianne Laux puts it in “The Life of Trees” (from Facts About the Moon and brought to my attention by Jamie):

The pines rub their great noise
into the spangled dark.
They scratch their itchy boughs
against the house and the mystery
of that moan translates
into drudgery of ownership: time
to drag the ladder from the shed,
climb onto the roof with a saw
between my teeth, cut those suckers down.
What’s reality if not a long exhaustive
cringe from the blade,
the teeth? I want to sleep
and dream the life of trees, beings
from the muted world who care nothing
for Money, Politics, Power,
Will or Right, who want little from the night
but a few dead stars going dim, a white owl
lifting from their limbs, who want only
to sink their roots into the wet ground
and terrify the worms or shake
their bleary heads like fashion models
or old hippies. If trees could speak,
they wouldn’t, only hum some low
green note, roll their pinecones
down the empty streets and blame it,
with a shrug, on the cold wind.
During the day they sleep inside
their furry bark, clouds shredding
like ancient lace above their crowns.
Sun. Rain. Snow. Wind. They fear
nothing but the Hurricane, and Fire,
that whipped bully who rises up
and becomes his own dead father.
In the gale winds the young ones
bend and bend and the old know
they may not make it, go down
with the power lines sparking,
broken at the trunk. They fling
their branches, forked sacrifice
to the beaten earth. They do not pray.
If they make a sound it’s eaten
by the wind. And though the stars
return they do not offer thanks, only
ooze a sticky sap from their roundish
concentric wounds, clap the water
from their needles, straighten their spines
and breathe, and breathe again.

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