The Pear Tree

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She was more

than a sapling,

so robust.

One summer she

bowed

her tear shaped body,

offering

a hundred sweet pears

to any creature

that sought her gifts.

Did the deer remember?

Fruit that fermented became

fertilizer for hungry plants.

 

When they

girded her slender trunk

that winter

I felt betrayed

by the herd of graceful creatures

I fed…

 

She was dead.

Her sweet cambium

stripped away

under rough bark.

Unable to carry

nitrogen, water, nutrients

from trunk to twig

the tree succumbed.

 

I would have cut her down

but she was hidden

below the house

in the lower field,

out of sight.

So the tree still stood –

skeleton gray against

new green

and wheat.

 

I continued to visit her –

murmured endearments,

stroked the scarred

trunk

“re- membering”

her life,

the wholeness

she once embodied.

 

Every fall I cut the field

Each spring I walked the

Round.

 

It was during

a May meandering

that I drifted

towards the tree –

startled when

lime green

caught my eye.

A few stunted leaves

were unfurling…

How could this be?

 

Bearing witness

to the struggle,

I cried out,

laid my head against

her trunk, caressed

a branch or two.

 

Some life force

had not surrendered –

 

During the summer

more leaves appeared.

I honored her tenacity,

placed protective wire

around her girth

under Autumn’s chill.

The philosopher held

the inevitable question…

How?

 

When I approached her

this spring

plump buds had formed

on branches over my head.

The Red Winged Blackbird

courted us both

from one of Pear’s

blue sky limbs…

 

After the heat wave

I couldn’t wait

to see her again…

 

Strolling down

the pine scented path.

I peered into the field

walked towards her

gasping in amazement.

A brilliant White Earth Star

stood there before me

festooned in

Bridal blossoms.

Honey Bees hummed

from every pearl -like petal.

 

“How did you do that?”

I queried in wonder,

recalling suddenly,

that I knew –

all trees communicate

underground,

ask for help,

exchange information

through rootlets,

mycelial networks,

miles of fungi,

woven into a tapestry

from tree to tree.

Did nearby white pine

or crabapple

nurture her

roots and trunk

when all seemed lost?

 

Miracles occurred

with regularity.

 

Like this one.

 

I was standing next to

a blooming pear tree

who would one day

bear sweet fruit!

 

Life had triumphed

for a cosmic moment.

 

Woman and Tree

were both transformed

by relationship

running deep.

 

 

Working notes:

This piece of prose was generated by the question of how much difference my love for this tree might have had on her return to life. Obviously there were biological/ecological forces that helped the tree recover, but my sense is that my love for her also helped in some mysterious way.

 

Developing a relationship with a tree or lizard or dog seems to create a reciprocity that strengthens both participants. And trees and women have an ancient relationship that stretches back through mythological time.

 

When we “re – member” some part of us brings what appears to be the past and the present together – my sense is that there is a wholeness inherent in remembering that also blurs the boundaries between the living and the dead.

In Memoriam: The Loss of the Holy

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( a close up of a piece of the magnificent cottonwood canopy that arced its way overhead and met the ground – photo 2018)

 

Something’s wrong.

I stopped dead

in my tracks as I

passed through the gate

startling the pre-dawn sky.

 

I was on my way to the river.

It was dark.

Gazing up at my beloved

Cottonwood Cathedral

I couldn’t see,

But why couldn’t I feel her Presence?

 

A fearful hole

ripped through my heart

as dread seeped in.

Some alien force

had smashed the Peace.

 

When I reached the river

La Llorona was sobbing

her veil of mist

smudging the trees with a shroud.

 

Retracing the path at dawn

the terrifying sight of

severed limbs –

the loss of

supple arches

that swept the ground

with their bountiful grace,

limbs bowed low in surrender…

shattered the wonder of this holy place –

twisted knives in my gut.

 

To lose a holy place

is to be annihilated.

 

Both the trees and I

have lost our limbs

like the handmaid once did

to mindless slaughter

by those that neither

see or feel.

 

Never again will

we rejoice in the

reciprocal

joy that the holy

bestows on

those that are

capable of Love.

 

 

For three years I have walked through the Cathedral of Cottonwoods, sometimes two or three times a day just for the simple pleasure of feeling the peace that these Matriarchs of the Bosque bestow upon anyone who can feel their benign yet powerful presence. In just one place beyond the gate the holy lived… and day after day year after year I would stop just to feel the peace – amazing grace. This spot was my sanctuary, the one place on this property that somehow felt like it belonged to me as I did to her.

 

Today my sanctuary has been destroyed forever. This tree destruction occurred either in my absence or sometime during this past week when my dog has been so ill that I have barely stepped out the door except to make a harrowing trip to the vet.

 

My body is still struggling to process the magnitude of this loss. Intentional or not it feels malevolent. Each time I walk through this area someone in me screams out “NO NO, not here.” My most beloved place. Gone, the severed limbs will bare ugly scars until the tree itself returns to the earth in death…

 

The worst part of this story is that the severing of the arms of the tree accomplished virtually nothing. These beautiful arches were beyond a fence… and part of a path to the river. There was absolutely no reason to senselessly destroy them especially since dead branches still hang over the same area.

 

The severed limbs also remind me of a fairy tale…In the “The Handmaid’s Tale” a father betrays a glorious apple tree that is also his daughter for money. This bargain with the devil intensifies as the dark one insists the father chop off the girl’s hands. At this point after a second unconscionable betrayal the child leaves home with her severed hands and throws herself on the mercy of nature, who eventually restores the young woman’s hands…

 

My beloved cottonwoods will not have their limbs restored but perhaps there’s a message in this story for me.

Spring Benediction

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Earth celebrates the season

in a thousand shades of gray.

Black and white bleed

stark contrast into

a horizon birthing light.

She stands under towering trees

soaking in their strength

– feeling –

a Sense of Wonder –

the miracle of spring snow

for a thirst driven desert…

 

She gazes upward lost in canopies –

Cottonwoods bending sturdy

arms seeking to embrace…

each patch of bare skin

breathing diamond flakes…

Wearing furry mink coats

her heaped up heart

opens to Love.

 

Trees know

her Mother and Lover,

both hide inside

Rough Bark,

That spring Sap is rising.

 

As Father,

trees dip and sway

but do not break

or walk away

in the fiercest of winds

even

when mighty walls

fall…

 

The child needs protection

from those

who left her

behind.

 

She leans

towards steadfast trees

dripping water from each limb…

Their shelter is her symphony.

Tangled in

Underground conversation –

she listens.

Trees sing love songs to Water,

to ‘Changing Woman.’

A Rainbow covered mountain –

has blessed her

with a Spring Benediction.

 

Working notes:

 

As I stepped out the door at dawn the words rose unbidden – “this is a spring benediction”. Last night the Cloud People came and offered the Earth a gift of wet snow that covered each branch and bush, altering the landscape in the most magnificent way.

 

This winter and early spring the desert has been given a reprieve from drought.

 

No matter how temporary, I am celebrating for the trees, scrub, wildflowers and myself, for all of us must have our feet dipped in sky water to thrive.

 

The Littlest Juniper

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A solitary spire

refuses to bow

to heavy snow.

‘My tree’ communes

with flaky gray sky.

 

Transplanted late

last fall

I wondered…

Young roots

are so tender…

Would the old

nearby juniper

teach her

the ways of

an overgrown field,

guide her tendrils down

to tap sweet

waters?

 

Whenever I gaze at

this miniature tree

she tears my heart in two.

I tell her

I won’t be here

to see her reach adulthood –

Junipers live

a thousand years or more.

(or did)

 

But while I am around

I will love her

as one of my own –

a child with prickly needles

gray green darkening to

emerald when the

Cloud People come.

 

Whenever I lay down

to rest my weary body

I imagine my feet –

brown roots flowing

out the door to

become one with hers…

 

Together we rise up

through her spire

find our way back

to my supine body

as a child would return

to her mother

closing a circle

of Love between us

as she listens to

my prayers for her life.