Walnut tree – are you a walnut?
My forestry is less refined
Your ancient bark is so deeply ridged –
I want to fold myself inside
and learn from you
the slow pace of winter sap rising.
Is there a minute network
of chattering fungi beneath my feet?
My tree book suggests there is,
but you are a newly reborn forest,
so recently returned to life from clear cut ground.
Has your speech returned?
We silenced you because
we didn’t know what we were doing.
But I am listening now.
I was walking too loudly –
I’m sorry –
cracking ice and branches and frost.
But now I’m stopped and waiting and still,
and you can come out again,
chickadees and sparrows
and whatever bird you are,
almost hidden by the branch you land on.
Hop, scuttle, peck.
A bright yellow stripe
crowns your tiny head,
and I’m not sure that I have ever seen you before.
For the first time ever,
it occurs to me
to ask you what you call yourself.
who rode through here sometime last week,
might you have left your piled gift
somewhere easier to get around?
O, great mystery!
A canyon of color
contained in a mushroom.
You are a bearer of worlds.
The river breathes.
More slowly than humans,
and even than the green things,
but there is a rhythm,
in and out,
and I can see it in the ice on the flood plains –
in the layered ice rings around your trunks,
and the cracked lines dipping in the sheets of ice above your roots,
proof of water levels moving
up and down,
and compressing low,
water like air,
the earth a body,
where a flood is not a disaster,
but a deep breath in.
You really wanted to see that bridge,
my own dear self,
and when one way was blocked
by thunder-cracking ice
with slowly breathing water pulsing beneath it,
you came this way.
Was it worth it?
On most paths,
the mud is frozen
in space and time
with prints preserved
of human, deer, horse, raccoon,
and maybe occasionally
But this path,
is quickened by the breathing river,
and your feet sink into the loam,
muddy water rising over your grey suede boots.
Cold feet. Potentially ruined shoes.
It wasn’t so much that the bridge was worth it,
was it, my own dear self,
but that the setting sunshine,
and the sliding black river,
and the maple leaves still hanging,
were calling for a witness.