Monday, May 8, 2017

Witness



Tree who catches
every sunrise and sunset in your boughs

you have been my closest friend, the
witness of this story, too short and far

too long to yet tell me its meaning.
You have heard it all. The scream of the train

every time it crushes the land west where I
cannot go but have reached for all this time,

the way you reach. Unmoving and traveling
all the way to the ends of the fleeing universe.

The silence, crushing silence between

there and here. Only you would know.

You have opened yourself to
the dance of the smoke of every

smoldering prayer I burn here beneath
you. Witnessed every ceremony between

me and the sun that abandons me
right after I give my heart to it again.

And again you make me trust
by the force of saying nothing,

by the force of being, by the force
of your unseen movement in the night,

underground, in every one of the
directions, knowing you could cover

the whole world if enough time went by.
You pull me into your hidden rings

one by one until I see the substance
of every year of desperate survival,

the truth of what all forget but you.
You live and die and resurrect

and survive unnoticed, sure of what
you hold, what sap has gone deep in

your veins, forced by the sudden cold.

With a great crack

you thrown down your soul
in each limb that surrenders

to lightning, showing me
you are broken too, and nothing

can rob you of beauty that is.

You are young, you assure me,

you will die soon enough, you tell me,
you will live forever and you still

know nothing, you say—

You are just as alone as I am,

I say, unbelieving, as unknown, as
solitary and confined to your own unseen

movement, as powerless to change
the elements you brave.

Yet I know I'm wrong
every time I sit near you, every time

I lie beneath your great sheltering body
to watch the bright planets and muted stars

we know have been assigned to be seen
by us alone, from this exacting

city plot of earth.

I know you're telling me

what I don't want to hear,
the lavish questions to my questions,

the hope that drags me back
into this strange arena with nothing

to fight with but gnarled fists.
You force me to sing with you

every time the wind rises
in our midst.