Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Gesture

June 2, 2010

On the dog's ear, a scrap of filmy stuff

turns out to be

a walking stick...not an inch long...

I could not imagine it could live

in the brisk world,, or where it would live, or how. But

I took it

outside and held it up to the red oak that rises

ninety feet into the air, and it lifted its forward-most

pair of arms

with what in anything worth thinking about would have seemed

a graceful and glad gesture: it caught

on to the bark, it hung on; it rested,; it began to climb.

When I look at fragile beings, a newly hatched chick emerging from an egg or a tadpole in a summer' pond, I marvel that they survive at all, let alone into maturity that brings their genes and experiences forward. I wonder now if it is any less miracle that I am here, that you are here, that our species has managed to hang on so long. My guess is that it won't always be so. There will come a time when we exist no more. Though small with no assurance of our contunuity, in fact with assurance that this moment and sunrise will pass from this world, I raise my hands to the east, and vow, let me continue forward to climb from my restricted heart, in gratitude.

Have you ever been up in a tree? What does the world look like from so far above? Small? Great? Infinite?

1 comment:

  1. You keep asking questions that bring back the wonderful parts of my childhood. Yes, I have been up in a tree. There are two worlds up there. When looking past the branches out to familiar surroundings, one has an exhilarating rush of excitment, a feeling of power over what lies below and in front of you, and a light headedness that makes you wonder if your feet are still connected to earth or are you about to fly like a bird.

    The second world can be seen if you sit down on a limb beneath the canopy of leaves and branches above you. It is a secure feeling to know that you are surronded by a feeling of love. You are also hidden from some of the potential dangers wrought by humans down below. Have you ever really looked at the bark on the big, medium, and small branchs? Each suits it's special purpose in keeping the tree alive and other things alive. Lichens of many kinds are beautiful. Tiny almost invisible insects make their home beside you in the bark. Sometimes even ants may join you up so high. You wonder how long it took them to get so high. Harvesting pitch from a pine tree and exploring it's composition and properties can occupy a long afternoon. Getting it out of one's clothes may take longer.

    I lived in a section of Detroit where there were plum and pear trees from a former orchard. Sitting on a branch eating the fruit sometimes with a book passed many hours. A neighbor boy, who would be labeled ADHD today, and I climed trees together. He was very impulsive. One would think the trees were enough to climb, but not him. Down by the busy street there was a huge billboard, the kind with large poles and boards attached to both sides. He discovered that leaning an orange crate against a pole could get him high enough to get up between the two boards. From there we could wedge our bodies between the two boards and work our way up the inside to sit on top of it. That got us up higher than the houses and trees. Our major occupation that summer was getting up there and counting the TV antenneas. The summer began with five as far as we could see in all directions. By the end of that summer we were up to about twenty. We also knew which houses had TV so that we could befriend them and occasionally get invited in to watch Howdy Dowdy or a baseball game that used one stationary camera set up behind home plate. Who could have predicted where the technology of incoming home television would lead in just one life time? We did know that it was important enough to count them.