Angels in the Arboretum                                                            

          It would be easy for the lighter among us
                                      to bypass earth─
          where matter is foreign, where only the senses
                                      can speak.
          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,

                                      wood lifted
          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 ─
                                                and freedom.     


                             Richard Hacken