WIELDING THE TREE FINDER
Do you ramble the ground—are you a tree and yet a forest,
does your great bulk blossom in one night
like an elephant singing a love-song to the moon,
do you transform to a reservoir for water and stars,
do you grow hollow for whistling,
do you become an ossuary,
do you hold African mummies in your heart,
are you baobab?
golden shoulder pins on their woven garments,
your parasite branches in their hands
—the raspberry girl slaughtered, seeds between her teeth—
were you sharpened to a Norseman’s spearpoint,
did your mischief kill a god, fairest of the Aesir,
do you draw warmth of kisses to an orb of leaves,
are you mistletoe?
are you red and hairy like Esau,
are your flowers good in bowls of curried pottage,
are you a tree of red silk cotton,
around the forecourt of an emperor,
are you malleable in the whittler’s palm,
are you swooning-pale and infant-smooth,
are you a parasite tethered to roots of others,
are you sandalwood?
are you a sender-out of roots, are you clone,
is a forest of your kind a single sentience,
and in fall are you quivering yellow,
boreal, afflicted with melancholy,
a breather of mists and cold,
are you quaking aspen?
do the chrysomelids rut within your clutch of petals,
do your blossoms shatter as the beetles copulate,
are you Amazonian—are you annona sericea?
are you a garden of Babylon in mist,
are your branches colonies of dreaming epiphytes,
are the flicking tails of lizards lost inside your cities,
are you flying above the prayers of the Maori,
are you kauri, the tree that must forgive?
were you strong, were you midnight ripped in lengths,
were you foretelling gleams—Victoria’s jet beads—
were you heavier than the fat man’s coffin,
were you Pharoah’s favorite chair,
are you ebony?
are you whistle thorn or cannonball,
are you linden, myrtle, jacaranda,
are you sourwood or silverbell,
are you a branch of good and evil,
are you the lemurs’ Ravenala,
are you Yggdrasil, axis of nine worlds,
are you a cross whose branches reach forever,
are you water-tapping, cloud-catching, sun-devouring,
are you leaf, are you branch, are you root, are you tree?