|"A Tree Grows in Scottsdale" by Pete Goldlust and Mary Lucking|
Trees: may they always grow, may the neighborhood around me always be shaded by them, may my bike rides be marked by their endless, majestic rows. Winds whispering their leaves. Their smell in rain. Their crunchy leaves underfoot in fall. Birch bark and pine cones. Acorns and helicopter seeds. Fragrant pods and resinous chip piles. Shelter in a storm. Bending in the gale. The way the ground beneath a pine can stay dry in a sudden downpour. Huddled against a trunk in a hailstorm on a mountain, shivering wet, lightning cracking all around. Initials inside a heart. Hot summer days, seated with back against the trunk, old folding pocket knife whittling a stick.
Lean my bike against one. Rest during a long hike, near sunset, somewhat slightly lost, low on water. Food bag roped up high in one, supposedly against bears. Climb one, among the middle branches, the woods seen from a different angle.
|Explanatory sign, with bicycle commuter reflection|
Maple. Oak. Cherry. Mesquite. Sycamore. Apple. Peach. Quetta pine. Cottonwood. Pecan. Walnut. Elm. Chestnut, American. Bay laurel. All rise. All photosynthesize. The stunners: redwood, sequoia.
In the woods alone down by the East Verde River, I built a smokey campfire in the moonless darkness. The smoke rose up, up, through the limbs of a giant, old, overhanging cottonwood. The smoke stunned some of the tree bugs, including a praying mantis who dropped down and landed on the blanket next to me. Neither of us moved. I'm sure I resembled the blue-eyed redsnake, above, to Mr. Mantis.
Beneath a willow. Ah, beneath a willow. I think there may have been a bicycle, but that's not what I remember.
We hold these branches to be self-resplendent: that all leaves are grown equal. That they are endowed by their mother branch with certain alien creatures, that among these are caterpillars, inchworms, flying squirrels, praying mantis, and sugar gliders. That if you could introduce a three toed sloth to a manatee, and enable them to communicate with one another, and be patient and understanding as they got around to it, you could hear the universe unfold slowly, beneath this tree, this one of cloth in Scottsdale, and even the whales would lower to a hum their calling, to hear what was being said. The slow things, the bright things, the tree things worth hearing.
Cicadas along the canal. In their millions, the raucous buzzing of Diceroprocta apache that sings me to peace.