Angels in the Arboretum
It would be easy for the lighter among us
to bypass earth─
where matter is foreign, where only the senses
We stay with trees, because these sentinels
of breath and time
reach upward for spirit at the start of sky─
to hold the heavens
from slipping away. Those branches are firm,
from dark soil with clods of clay that flake off
to feed eternity.
Many think it the other way around─
eternity scaling away
in curves to wrap itself around a twig, finding its way
back to the dust.
Why do the branches twist in the air as they grow,
making a sweet bramble?
Should we of the other world pretend to be trapped
by the sight
of a leafy crown against the twilight?
Why do saplings
split and fork as they push aside the grasp of earth
if not to form a refuge
for those of us you call unreal?
Leaves quench themselves
at nature's spring
Below the reach of sight,
but how can they give shade
or place of hiding to those of us
who care nothing for warmth of sun
or for being recognized by names of language?
It is with no regret
we watch them fall. Bent from passage,
their veins last to go,
they repeat in miniature the limbs of tree
that hold the sky together.
─We have to marvel
that you can be mortal
exactly at this moment ─
Why is it that you eat the fruit from trees
and throw the seeds away?
You've got it backwards.
Seeds provide a space
between the soil and sky
for realms to mix─
so that a turning earth is not alone.
In unexpected branches
is a whisper of home,
and so we float in your folds of bark,
one ear to the pulse of life,
one eye on the open skies ─