They say the history of a tree is learned
by counting its rings, though to see the story
you must cut it down. I say leave the ax
at home. The tree remembers more than that.
No need to turn your hand to violence.
Walk up and touch the rough body
listen to the rhythm of the upward-flowing
xylem drum. The wind will shift and change
the pitch of leaves. Now it has a voice.
The tree will tell you stories of animals
which men do not deserve to hear.
The black bear passes sometimes late,
sighs heavily beside the tree, moves on
downhill through blackberry and oak
toward water. The old doe sleeps
beside the trunk and wakes with the sun
on her face. She rises, moving on.
And the tree tells the story of today,
how you have been in pain without remedy
or very much hope. But you came.
You rose and stood up to the bright
and thoughtless light of spring
and you came to hear. Now you are moving
on, with everything, as everything is looking
for a place to be. And the old tree leans
happily into April again. It leans a little more
each year, toward home.
Third Draft May 1, 2011
Toward Water and Home by J. Kyle Kimberlin is licensed
under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial
-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
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