At last, I enter woods. What friends are these,
quieting in the cool? Whose is this curved grey bole,
slitted, twisting up to sky? Ah,
these saw-blade edges of leaves in splayed bunches,
down-curved like rolled metal, all say –
sweet chestnut. Hundreds
of empty spiked caskets on the wood floor.
This side of summer, the tree seems melancholy,
resigned to stasis though today is mild.
But it occurs to me this is just projection,
since for trees, time has no moment.
There is no now, no pang of change, only
a strict order of miraculous presents:
the chance germination of seed,
the unlikely survival into sapling,
the machinations of vast fate,
then an arrival, a stiffening maturity
that only storm or axe could fell.
Now the crown sways in the canopy’s mansion.
A weak sentience sifts the drift of information,
like the sleeping ear of an owl might the dawn,
but no mind presses against time’s gate,
to break out into movement across seconds and hours.
The great sway of leaf and limb
lacks attention, remains impassive
above its root-touchings, their tiny cool joys,
its slow shaking-out of green garments.
It is underneath time. It is not prey to death.
It is a life lived face-down, suckling
in the dark deathless continuum of being,
unknowingly superannuating mass,
nourished on the quiet songs of the Goddess.
It grows upwards into the light, raising
its soul’s naked wholeness, alive
across the countdown and oblivion of days.