Friday, November 14, 2014

When a Tree Falls

I was at a workshop over the weekend. If you walk along the edge of the parking lot you notice this mass of tangled limbs. If you are like me, you follow to see where those limbs lead.

When was the last time you followed the branch of a tree?

The Father Tree
I didn’t see you the first time I drove by
nor the time I ate my lunch in the grass
two hundred yards away

I saw you when I was bouncing my way along
the curb in the parking lot
nearly oblivious to the annoyingly straight painted lines
meant to pack as many cars as possible into your once
densely treed sanctuary

No wonder after over one hundred years
of looking after the stream you cracked
and fell into that damn parking lot
I could see where someone chopped and
hacked your bits away, likely with a loud saw
temporarily sending the birds and squirrels away
You did your best to fall
in a direction to take that lot back

I couldn’t help but marvel at your strength
and the curves of your branches,
Even fallen, you were mighty and noble
still watching over the sanctuary of the river

I admired how your strongest branches
Supported your curiously hollow trunk
and left a bridge, daunting enough to discourage
the dainty and clumsy-footed
while inviting the curious tree climber

I followed your bridge up and over
down, around, through, and up again
I sat for a moment in the sturdy hollow.
Were I a tree dweller, I would have made
a home with the berries and fungi and mushrooms
softening what remained of your heart

I saw the splinters where you shattered--
the field of daggers still new and unworn
by the rain and winter cold
I climbed atop the hollow sending my own roots
down, down, down
asking you keep my feet sure
The fifteen foot drop would surely be unpleasant
I inched out across your broken back on my belly
I still felt the life moving within you.
I watched the river flow around the bend
I silenced my breath and slowed my fast-beating heart
to listen to the leaves fall in the water
and for the echoing ripples

When you can’t watch over your sanctuary, I will.