Saturday, August 15, 2015

coming home to the deep, distant woods

in the stillness of a redwood morning

the Cherokee knew the plant kingdom and humans as allies,
a relationship we can deny when we clear cut,
and particularly when we bind bushes and trees into unnatural forms:
on the way up the California coast
we saw Western Red Cedar
clipped into boxes, like boxwoods at Williamsburg, VA,
those from a time when nature free seemed of the Devil,
so its spirit needed to be broken for our psychic comfort,

today in the great coastal redwood groves in far Northern California,
roads and trails are of the minimum and adapt themselves to the trees,

huge pillars of old to ancient trees just stand there,

sometimes in the sun, sometimes in the shade,
and we slip around them in awe,
few animals live here in such shaded old growth,
the silence profound and still--expectant,
like what I know of a good Quaker meeting
when the world quiets, the soul quiets,
and God can sometimes be heard,

there is a grandeur of scale here,
the trees so huge they dwarf our cocksureness,

ferns grass and grace the understory,
with the forest looking close to what it was to the dinosaurs,

stellar jays, their descendants, fuss at us with a caw-cophony,
I don’t need to come here too often, or to stay too long,
I just need to know these woods are there, and treasured,

still, we need to come home to such a forest at times,
for only then do we remember the family we knew
in the deep, distant woods. 

by Henry H. Walker
August 12, ’15

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