Prayer circles

An excerpt from the overstory, I name this, Patricia’s Prayer
Prodigious dying pulls her along, past an immense western red cedar. Her hand strokes the fibrous strips that peel from a colossal, fluted trunk reeking of incense. The top has sheared off, replaced by a candelabra of stand-in trunks. A grotto opens at ground level in the rotted heartwood, big enough for whole families of mammals. But the scaly sprays of branches, a thousand years on, still teem with cones. She addresses the cedar, in words of the forest’s first humans. “Long Life Maker. I’m here. Down here.” She feels foolish, at first. But each word is a little easier than the next.
“Thank you for the baskets and the boxes. Thank you for the capes and hats and skirts. Thank you for the cradles. The beds. The diapers. Canoes. Paddles, harpoons, and nets. Poles, logs, posts. The rot-proof shakes and shingles. The kindling that will always light.”
Finding no good reason to quit now, she lets the gratitude spill out, following the ancient formula. “Thank you for the tools. The chests. The decking. The closets. The paneling. I forget … Thank you for all these gifts that you have given.” Not knowing how to stop, she adds, “We’re sorry. We didn’t know how hard it is for you to grow back.” ~ excerpt ~

The morning brought news of the death of people we know, the pandemic, politics and dysfunctional society. The poetry got densely pathogenic, political and sadly, societal. All these are strange bedfellows, so I did a volte face, inspired by those that seem to ‘do’ life much better, the Woodlands. I have chosen an except from the book, The Overstory, a novel by Richard Powers, published in 2018, his twelfth. The novel is about five trees whose unique life experiences with nine Americans bring them together to address the destruction of forests. Patricia Westerford, one of the novel’s central characters, was heavily inspired by the life and work of forest ecologist Dr. Suzanne Simard (Wikipedia). The poem today, is about the prayer in breath.

Economy of breath is a strange absence of gratitude / the world, an endless reflection of a mirage / a soul mirroring of fearful deceptions, tethering in ripples / The  iron abs, a hard surface for the navel, a sad reminder / of an earlier, umbilical existence / So breathe //
Prayer circles in the loam / the mycelia of fairy tales / commiserating in prayers / ripples on land /  So breathe //
Ruins, in a forest in Pennsylvania
To what purpose a fireplace in the woods / Of what meaning, your singularity adrift, in the universe / tethered only to Earth / You are alone somewhere roped to pain / If it were love, it would be a tree / undulating canopies whispering in ripples across a forest / so breathe //
A drowning is the rising of breath / spiriting to the surface / Death and life in a single moment as you swallow the sea / but it isn't life without death / and to die, one must live / so breathe //
Is the heart but a knot in an artery / so life can pulse, not flow / It throbs at every moment to startle into wakefulness / wondering if heartbeats spanned in meaning across the horizon / to spirit away in silence / like unseen ripples / so breathe //

Perhaps, I will add to this poem eventually, like a limitless ripple. Thank you for reading.

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