Requiem for a tree

Splitting trunk, splitting ranks

Leafless veins in the overstory/ fracturing a grey mirror of sky/ courted by the god of tempests/ An aeolian serenade he etches on hard slate of mossy rooftops/ but saves a harsh caress for the Cedar siding in the east/ loose wind chimes outside a kitchen, west/ Umbrellas on a porch, raised without ceremony/ forgotten doors, slammed// His searing rage, through needling rain/ amused at displays of renegade branches splitting trunk/ breaking ranks/ at his contemptuous affections the size of an angry gale//

Her tears are snowmelt, where she digs her heels into sodden earth/ Lay encrusted there large flakes/ coalesced into the solidity of a winter left too long/ retreating now in warm injury to encircle her, contemplate/ pain of wood and dead hurt from a distance// An observant arena, watching her bleed like only a tree can/ knowing little of the understory/ sisterly tales of root seeking root/ sparing commiserations to salve the wound/ whispering healing prayers through single cells of contact//

Enzymes that signal your human hurts are not hers/ synapses of your human grief are foreign too/ and unrelated, the mechanics of your psychosomatic afflictions/ but you can imagine it like thjs/ in the simple way your science defines it/ A symphony of molecules and atoms, laid like lamentations/ sheet music in papery tomes, made strangely from the carcasses of such like her/ singing of pain of heart wood, amid frosty gales//







We lost a tree in the wind gusts on Christmas Eve, which were at 65 mph. One of the heavy branches split the trunk in a strange fashion to reveal heart wood. It made me sad because I find it difficult to face the loss of trees as something that takes years in the making. This is my tribute to the fall of a beautiful giant.

I have used male gender for the wind or Aeolus, inspired that I am by the Greek pantheon these wintry days, where the war between the Titans and the Olympians makes for warm viewing. It is also noteworthy, the tree nymphs, (Dryads or Oak spirits) cited in the Greek mythologies, but I would like to consider the tree as the universal feminine in this poem.

If you have a penchant for the botanical, you may find this study on the communication of trees in the understory, quite interesting.

Elhakeem et al (2018); Above ground mechanical stimuli affect below ground plant-plant communication.

For those familiar with the book, Overstory, by Richard Powers, he writes in one story of a fictional botanist, Dr. Patricia Westerford, based on perhaps the real life Ecologist Suzanne W. Simard, whose work involved studying how trees communicate with one another using the Mycorrhizal network. Trees are also known to reach out to each other and form a supportive network underground.

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