In Love with Trees
I am in love with trees
I know it sounds daft
I can't help it
I love the stability of them
their to and sway
I love their general health
the outward persona
that keeps council of inner griefs
I like how they resist the crack
of winds the bleach of sun
Even blighted ponderosa
and beetled lodgepole
where the sap comes out red and cruciform
instead of honeyed taffy even then
as bells toll in browned needles
they retain an erect dignity.
I want to hold them
tell them my regret at drinking
their birth right at fouling the air
we share breaking their resistance
They ask nothing of me
stand noble as kings along the ridge
branches touching or not
birds coming or not
I love them for their stance
and for never forgetting
to reach upward
After Beth Moon's Avenue of the Baobabs
The remarkable baobab comes in two types: fat bottle and skinny bottle. The remarkable baobab can make you pregnant—lean against it at your own risk. The remarkable baobab comes in nine types: the African type, the Australian type, six Madagascar types, and a type that only grows on the moon. No, that is a lie. There are three kinds on the moon.
The remarkable baobab has been a bar, a church, a jail, a post office, a hunting blind, a boundary marker, a dance hall, a water tank, and an authorized station to observe the transit of Venus. This one, here, touch it—it is a thousand years old. Let’s carve our names in the pink part.
The remarkable baobab has roots that reach into the earth for many miles. This root is the water root and sometimes fish get caught by it, get lifted all the way to the crown of the tree, blinking and shivering in the windy light. Other roots move the rocks around, put them on the path in different patterns. This root likes to wander just below the surface, teasing the grass. This root is the deepest root; it grows not in soil but reaches all the way down into diamonds.
Noah knew the remarkable baobab: it was the first tree he could see, rising out of the water as the Flood receded. Ravens sat in it, laughing. Baobab wood cures snakebites. A girl who got pregnant by a baobab was going to be beaten by her father. Tell me who did this, he said. The tree, the tree, she told him, it is not my fault, it was the tree. He did not entirely believe her but the father went to the tree to demand bride price. He did not get it, but in berating the tree he leaned too close. He become pregnant himself and had to run away to Kinshasa in shame.
After we die my friends and I agree to meet at the Leydsdorp Baobab, next to President. First we shake hands, look at our feet, say, Oh, it happened to you too? But then we need to make some plans. Things need to happen: we can’t just stand here all day. My friends want to invite Thomas Aquinas for dinner, but I am not so sure. What about something a little more over-the-counter to start with, maybe LBJ or Elvis? Instead of flowers we could have glowing jars of sea monkeys, and give ant farms as presents. The waitresses all could have big hair. When I try to talk about my idea they make rude noises, look at me like I always park facing the wrong side of the road. This is why nobody likes you, they say. Well, you know what, I tell them, there are more baobabs than just this one. You guys just piss me off.
I put my ant farm (still wrapped in nice paper) in a backpack, grab two bottles of Aqua Fina and some crackers, take a compass bearing for due north, and start walking.
Baobab Performs Divorce
— after Beth Moon’s photo “The Chapman’s Baobab”—
The art and artist are one
in slow-moving sculptures
meant to mock our clownish
distress, like some halved baobab
posing in a posture of leaving,
of what we call growing apart.
In its picky fingers the divided
music collections, the photos
neatly torn in half, the Shih Tzu
shared every other week until
a custody battle awarded
the surrogate baby to the better
half. See the scorned wife’s things
balled up in tightly wound
collections of hate. See
the husband’s rightful shit
all bound up in little parcels
of resentment, each heavy trunk
lethargic with age and a little
overweight, like retirees who come
to realize they never made love
with the lover they only fucked
then married, except now they’re
well past prime, so they strain to go
separate ways, but a long history
binds them at the roots. They
reconcile, stay, and lean away
from their partner’s place.
like a riddle.
In my life, there’s no such thing
as darkness. All night I swim in light,
more light than you can see, from stars
who love me as I love them—completely,
without question. We reach, touch, fall
into each other—we are quiver and arrow,
water and thirst. When my time on earth
is done, I’ll return to my first home—
stripped of leaves and branches,
speeding toward a wormhole.