My body, woodenly askew

I will never get you put together entirely,
Water oak. Not pieced, nor properly jointed;
Leaved, hunched over, with twisted branches
Proceeding from your great trunk.
You are worse than Dutch elm disease.

Perhaps you consider yourself stately,
Nesting for the mysterious marbled murrelet,
Or some other feathered friend.
Forty years now I have labored
To dredge the sap from your roots,

I am none the wiser. Scaling little crags with
Pots of salt and pails of waves;
I crawl like a slug in mourning
Over the seaweed acres of my brow
To mend the bark plates and clear the aging
White pupils of your eyes.

A gray sky out of the Tuath De’
Arches above us. O goddess, all by yourself
You are as beautiful and ancient as Irish mythology.
I open my waves in a depth of black water.
Your fluted arms and golden hair are littered

In their old deities to the moons horizon line.
It would take more than thunder and lightning
To create such a travesty on a dying water oak.
Twilight, I squat in the basket
Of your ear, out of the sea wind,

Counting the silhouettes of stars and moonlight;
The sun will rise under the lip of your mouth,
Twined to a water oak’s aging limbs like ivy;
Cries the oak, its hours are shadowed to an end
On the wet stones of my landing.

My body, woodenly askew

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