Thursday, October 7, 2021

Tall Pine Trees in a Hurricane

I could not tell whether the tall pine trees
were fighting against the hundred-mile-an-hour winds
or engaging in a frenzied, orgiastic dance.
Branches, like the multiple arms of Shiva,
flailed wildly as their bodies whipsawed back and forth
with each new gust, untamed zephyrs
unleashed by Byron or Shelly on a future world
they suspected would need more hedonism.

The five-story pine in the corner of the yard
spiraled like a whirling dervish, orderly by comparison,
but then abandoned its pious spinning
to join the riot of its brothers and sisters,
green needles pointing towards sky and ground,
long fingernails waiting to claw my windows or roof
when the next feeder band swept through.

Or perhaps I have it all wrong.
Maybe they were martyrs or ballerinas
or both caught up in a westerly,
swaying left and right with arms arched
above their heads and bending to the wind
in a life and death choreography of salvation.

“Take me or not,” may have been their chant,
the wild rush and rustling of their limbs
against each other as the spirits,
angelic or demonic, blew in from the Gulf.
“But we will not fight, only bend
to the will of the same Father who determines
when sparrows must eventually fall to the ground.”

Stepping back from the window,
I clicked off my flashlight and listened to their declarations.
I have seldom encountered such surrender
or been as flexible in mind, body, or spirit
as these hamadryads rooted in a deeper well
of theology and soil that had thrust them heavenwards
years before they had been put to the test.

The spinner in the corner fell hard, died,
its nymph escaping into the clouds, I suppose,
and perhaps to a blue heaven and white light
accessed by traveling upwards though the eye,
its life review showing a progression from sapling
to firewood after the chainsaws had bitten
into the rings and concentric layers of soul.

The storm tracked north,
and after the sun reclaimed its ascendancy
and the juice ran through the wires once again,
I looked out the window and thought of life and death,
of going to the grocery store to buy more water.
The remaining trees were quiet
and prayed vespers inaudibly,
which was, I now knew, their regular evening routine.

~William Hammett

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