Beautiful, beautiful words to play with this week and, once I had an idea, this wrote itself. Except for the pesky word “jar”. Couldn’t manage it even after 17 tries and every possible meaning, so was forced to let poor jar stand on the sidelines like that last schoolchild no one wants to pick to play the game. 🙁
Yesterday I followed the pulse of a tree.
My mind was open in the forest’s hush of chirping insect and slicing bird calls and creaking tree joints, when a human heartbeat echoed thru the curvature of the trees and my own heart danced a painful rhythm in response.
I walked on thru shattered sunlight, the carpeted trail forgotten, and the beat and the light intensified until I found the source of the pulse.
A fallen tree. A giant cedar lying with his great arms splayed in a river’s currents, water pounding into the trunk disguised as heartbeat.
He was born to this country and crowned by bird nests and weighed down by long-haired club moss and moved by the winds and the rains and uprooted by vine maples inching over his kingdom.
I pressed my hand into the stringy bark and the throb reverberated up my arm and my fingers came away tingling at seventy beats per minute, a good resting heart rate.
A bit of peeling bark revealed a wound, sap flowing, merging with the river, I leaned in close, the water thump stirred the resting king beneath me and my heart rate slowed down to match his.
And as I pressed my body to his I thought I was a great cedar but I’m a vine maple instead. I am not strong. I’m thin, green and malleable, funny leaves, flattened hands reaching to pet whatever passes, whirligig seeds, not a care what I stand on, marching quickly across sand, loam, rock, in a hurry for a new kingdom to conquer.
But right now my place is at the feet of the cedar, palms open reaching for the rain as it filters down thru the thick protection. Misty vine maple who clings to his rotten feet. Vine maple cowering under the king’s protection. He lives forever, he rules the forest he is vine maple’s shadow.
At night I dream of cedar, tall fish-spine branches and candle-flame seeds. I’m forgetting now, it’s rotting in my mind, the gnarled wilderness of this forest-chest, in soft animal hair curled tight against skin, under wing-twisted clavicles, fingers tracing strings of moss up my spine and out my shoulders folding back and diving toward my waist.