Tree

Something I wanted you to know,
A picture from the dark archives
Of caves that might have stopped the flow
Of blood from the break between our lives
By binding them in a distant age,
A burnt-stick picture of one stage
In the traveling drama of our race
That starred us lately in this place:
Two figures, choosing to join their chances,
Climb into the high consanguine branches,
Watch for each other, kind with kind,
And, having us in their lower mind,
Pick up in the leaves an interference:
The quick appearance and disappearance
Of long-distance heirs for worlds ahead,
There little airs of the night who hid
And sought their lives among the twigs
Hung with pre-dawn nuts and figs
Over the glacier-straightened moor.
This meaning never said before
Between two lovers or between
Any two human minds but seen
This night on the street of our old routine
Like the play of a long-delayed encore
Of the nights when you stood here with me in
A mood that was not next-of-kin
And missed not far from your own front door
How the red rays of a streetlight enter
An opening in the leaves of an oak’s first floor–
About where the branches have their center–
And illumine that woodworked interior,
Staining it like rough furniture
A life-form used until it taught
Itself how human things are wrought,
This thought whose sketch had relieved one wall
So long in my Old Stone Age skull
I would have said to you, but, though,
Answering all mine wished to know,
Your body had that intelligence
Called loveliness, your mind was dense
With feelings that its line had come
From animals that had stayed dumb
And when it tried it could not see
That far back into itself or me,
And quick to burn a resentful brand
Onto what you could not understand,
You would have damned my subtlety
And hanged it from the tree it manned
Like a broken genealogy.
So I stand alone in the street tonight
Pondering the reddish-brown streetlight
In the recent depths of the tree’s past tense,
Half losing what it meant to me
And wondering in my soliloquy
How many healing things of sense
From history, diary disappear
For having had no one to hear.

–July 12, 1990

(“Tree” was published in the May/June 2000 issue of American Poets and Poetry, Port St. Lucie FL.)

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Published on October 30, 2006 at 4:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

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