But a flicker

Yesterday our tree got a
a trim, only it isn’t really
our tree. It is actually our
elder, deeply rooted in
earth. Being closer to sun,
it beams. Scooping up wind,
it sings. Stretching across our lot,
it draws us in, only it really
isn’t our lot, our plot, our earth.
We belong to it, or so said
Chief Seattle, and I suspect
we would all do well to
trade “seize” for “see” and
be a bit more circumspect
at the prospect that we
own anything. We are
but a flicker across the
spectral vision of the divine
whose seeing us is the only reason
we have not yet slipped back into
the dust from whence tree imbibes life.

Yesterday, our tree got a trim.
Today, I touched its trunk and breathed.

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Eastering Tree

A beauty so severe

it winds me: I expire at

the sight of spring budding on

this Eastering tree – afraid to inhale,

I tarry ‘twixt the to and fro of breath.

 

This arboreal poem drips with

artistry as sap bleeds

new life into each fetal leaf, roots

raising earth’s riches to trunk, to crown holding forth

the promise of shade,

of oxygenation:

counter pointing carbon.

 

This hymn to hope

empties me of myself and so

fortifies my knowing

that this moment need not be

bested, this being arrested

by new life pulsing from tomb to womb

to the room I find on this day

beneath boreal arms in prayer, bearing

witness to Easter’s pledge.

Lament for a Tree

Friday evening a northern high pressure system collided with a vagrant mess of hot, sultry weather in Southwestern Ontario. Tornadoes touched down some 100 km from where I live, and gusts of up to 100 km/hour were reported in our area. I sat in my living room, mouth agape as trees ducked to escape sheets of water rifled at them with Thor-like intensity. After the storm subsided, I took a peak in our back yard. I was astounded to find that our neighbor’s 80 foot tall tree lay on his lawn. It fell at such an angle that it narrowly missed his shed in the back. The fall left a hole in the yard the size of a large fish-pond., The size of the now horizontal tree became evident as it engulfed half of his backyard. As he, I and my wife surveyed the damage, I expressed my condolences. He appeared heart broken and it struck me that for many – including me – a tree is more than a tree.

I was intrigued to learn, not so long ago, that one of the Norse sagas claims that humans were morphed from trees. In the book I call holy, certain trees are identified as sources of life, and the knowledge of good and evil. As we roamed across Norway last month, we also learned that some believed and believe elves to live in solitary trees. Many cultures have little people of one sort or another associated with tree life.

In many ways, there is more to a tree than meets the eye.

Across the road from our house, I bumped into Jim yesterday. Jim was cleaning up the aftermaths of the storm in his own front yard. We spoke of our neighbour’s loss. Jim was deeply saddened. He has a some stately trees of his own, including a spectacular oak. I once asked him the age of this tree, and he told me that he an arborist had suggested that it was likely over 300 years old. That tree at the corner of his yard was there before there was a yard, a street, a town, etc. If trees could talk, what tales they could tell! If we could hear, what stories we could savour!

In the book Tree: A Life Story, David Suzuki and Wayne Grady explain that the difference between hemoglobin (a human’s life blood) and chlorophyll (a tree’s life blood) is the presence of Iron where Magnesium is found in an otherwise identical molecule. Perhaps we humans have more in common with these gentle giants than first meets the eye. When all the trees of the forest sing for joy (Psalm 96:12), perhaps we might join in, and begin to learn a little about joy, about life, about tenacity.

Greening now

Greening now the tree queries me
“How will you be on earth? As you are in heaven?
Rooted in the mystery
you are
not far
from surfacing, from breaking through to freedom.”

My maple mentor
reminds me that we
are rooted
in fecundity.

We share this – even while
she coaxes me to be where I am
despite
these roving roots that skip me, spin me, ski me, kneel me
across earth’s girth.

I slip across the land while my sister keeps watch,
firm on terra firma,
she teaches me to be where I am
even while my
where whirls on
in its way.