Sunday, March 2, 2014

Bristlecones and Raven

Some ninety miles to the west as the raven might soar straight,
on a ridge overlooking an undulating desert plain
stand trees who have lived thorough millennia-
and some have endured standing,
departed for more than a hundred years.

Their wooden flesh is the color of desert sand and rusting iron
and the perfume of health remains in their bones’ marrow
even long past their death.
Every living leaf is a stout needle, stalwart and deep green;
and though upon the eldest alive
there are only a few branches
with live bark spiraling and sprouting that deep jade
so small in measure beside deadwood 
that little life will yet outlast my immediate family and me-
if the tree’s ancient patterns persist.

At this human moment, if snow and sleet swirls high on that hill
or clear, sharp starlight shines down on these relatives of mine,
the cold might slow their deliberate, sugary blood,
though rather than freezing sap,
strength will continue course as if spring rains wash down
and midsummer sun scorches concurrently,
because time is very different for those Bristlecones,
as for that raven
whistling past trees and over the sheer edge
without a thought for time
or of the four thousand foot drop below.

Read for the splendid people at David's Granary. Good gathering of souls, music and words today!

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