Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Garden of Verse: Poems About Trees Just Keep Reaching for the Sky

My poem titled "As A Tree," appearing in this month's, takes root from the backyard oak tree that was also the inspiration for last month's post on catkins. Entitled "The Garden of the Trees: What is that 

THESE PHOTOS: The top two were taken by Bev Ness of Plymouth Library at my recent reading at the library. I read from new book of poems, "Gardeners Do It With Their Hands Dirty." My thanks to Bev and to Plymouth Library director Jen Harris.
 The next three photos illustrate some of my favorite flowering trees. They were taken earlier this spring at Arnold Arboretum in Boston.

        The final image, found online, is a photo of catkins, those male oak tree flowers that littered many people's yards this spring, on their way to spreading pollen all over the world in the hope that some of it will make contact with oak tree female flower parts.

Brown Stringy Stuff Falling From My Oak Tree?" the post begins:
            "Oak trees have the same unblushing approach to reproduction that characterizes the plant world's expression of all necessary physical functions, including growth, nutrition, birth and death. Green plants do the weirdest things, and you never see them sweat."
            Oak trees produce male flowers, called catkins, and this year a bumper crop of the fuzzy brown covered about a quarter of our garden while releasing the pollen necessary for oak tree reproduction -- which also happens to make us sneeze. My poem is only glancingly about catkins and tree reproduction. Nevertheless I try to get everything else in. Here's the poem: 

As A Tree

Tannish tassels smudging the plants,
bedecking leaves like off-color tinsel,
a plague of dust tarnishing the green.
Mannish flowers these, gifts of the oak,
a thing made all of secrets.
You never see it sleep, or shout, or breathe, or blow, or natter
or rumble, or do anything.
The wind 'does.' The birds leap and shout.
Leaves appear. Branches fall.
Catkins parachute softly in the spring,
a daring raid behind enemy lines; success assured by numbers.
The oak is ever that which is, not that which shows
in its becoming.
It is always being a tree.
Surely we all have heard this moralized explanation of 'giving' --
these theatrically magical seeds
these time-lapse photographs of 'stages':
the seedling with the corny hat, a sproutling, a slender sapling (like a boy with a bat),
branches that shoot outward like crosses
held against the terrors of a world of fire, seething winds, clinging ice,
quaking thunder, shaking earth.`
Time passes through the tree.
It perseveres in thereness, wise in the way of treeing.
We encounter, witness, regard, visit,
become what we will, in our endless evolutions.
The oak always was what it will be
whenever I behold it: then is now.

             Please take a look at the July 17 issue currently up at I have two other poems up in this issue, one about a dear family member turning 90, and the other about some of the things people have in common with the natural world, especially in spring. Many other fine poets offer excellent work as well.