I am Hanging Garden Tree,
my thick trunk hosting
an abundance of life forms,
diverse and vital;
garlanded with root and vine,
with fern and flower,
a universe within my leafy bower.
I am home to Sky Creatures, all the winged ones,
Owl and skyhawk, murrelet and swallow;
small furry-pawed ones dart among my branches
and nestle soft within my sleepy hollows.
A thousand fern fronds
drape fringed shawls along my shoulders,
soft moss, green lichen and fat mushroom clinging,
climbing vine that wraps itself around me
and, in my hair, a hundred sparrows, singing.
Myriad insect worlds I tend and harbor.
I shelter bear and wolf, am food for deer.
To all Two-Leggeds who come before me, seeking,
I offer peace within my silent arbor.
Young Standing People upon my branches grow.
They came through me, nurtured the best I know.
Roots fattened with the seasons of my living,
they stretch beyond my reach now, one by one,
as I support their separate struggle
towards the sun.
In this the season of my deep reflection
I'm tired now; I have endured an age.
At dusk, Sky Woman comes,
serene and sage,
to scatter stars about my weary head,
while Sister Moon sends me
such perfect dreams,
and morning comes
In this grove we're in
the presence of the sacred:
feeling our shared breath,
tenancy of earth and sky,
interconnected to all the Four Directions
by the Love to which we all belong,
under the grace of a Celestial Eye,
all singers of a universal song.
This was written as a Tofino writers' group exercise in July, 1999 : what kind of tree would you be, if you were a tree? I chose the Hanging Garden Tree, on the Tall Tree Trail on Meares Island. Many life forms grow upon its branches. As a single mother of four, grandmother of four, I could relate to this tree:) The air in that forest felt more sacred than in any cathedral.
The title could be a response to Jerry Mander's In the Absence of the Sacred, his book on how technology has impacted the world.
Posted for the Poetry Pantry at Poets United, where you will find some wonderful reading on Sunday morning.