two trees remix

by norman douglas
new york 2018

Two trees.

Not exactly Gog and Magog but supernatural,
beings that recall demons to some
remind others of some elementals like giants.
If not in earthly hordes laying claim to whole swaths of territory
they’ve marched across as one and made their own,
you’ll find trees in lines drawn to scale in this ecumene,
this inhabited, civilized, developed world footprint; trees in
stands growing to the wind along dry stone walls, against
squared brick faces, where wood stick frames collapsed into mortar,
plaster and dust foundations to foster zephyrs
trees can use, blusters to shape limbs for songs of rustle and brush
percussion twixt bough and branch, soughing and humming through leaves.

Trees remember water flowed plentiful. Trees see slights, see human
generations come and go, see the histrionics: the world’s a stage, the boards,
every tree sees sprawling dramas, crafty mind and muscle, laughter, hunger, artists’ comedies, whole sagas struck from record so episodes dwarf them, become giant
untitled stories in a nutshell, struck as well, as deeply, forgot. Trees see
fewer listeners now, see less vision, see more squinting.

Meanwhile trees see over a conflux of pages
beginning in trails an earthworm squirmed in
soil at the base of a stout blade of grass, tales
earworms pass through each furry lughole of the old
caster of spells versing trees up to smokestacks, up
to water towers, up to gray smog below white clouds
between here and blue stratosphere below watchful
steel alloy-canned satellite cams fixed on three-toed
tree toad songs over an ecological geometry
anathema to rectilinear infrastructures, thanks
to its circular bent, to its cyclical momentum, this
perpetual impossible, this whole stirring, this
embodied aesthetic, kinetic electrics, unplugged
grow-meters draining no battery; organic matter
(attractive, seductive, magnetic, moist and wet).

Trees see dogs on leads, see dogs followed close
by someone on a leash, see stray dogs, outside
dogs off leash. Trees see dogs and men
pee on trees, trees notice them because a tree
once hoped to be addressed when approached,
which of course used to be a normal thing to do all
round the planet but, lately, happens more and more
less and less although, of course most squirrels and birds
— woodpeckers even — still do (albeit rather gruffly where
certain younger pigeons, grackles and squirrels are concerned).
In big cities, the only people trees see address
trees are drunks, druggies — in colorful outbursts,
misty whispered embraces, wild displays of politeness,
civil, almost sane — and some green people
tripping to jazz in a city center park (who act pretty
wildly too). Trees see city kids stare, kids notice
trees one by one, from car seat or carriage,
swaddled, the way kids learn the routes
their parents follow, the routes
brothers and sisters follow, the kids
they follow; and a tree clicks and they
stop and meet, a secret language
giving trees a confidence to keep
close til kids come back, kissing,
carving hearts in the bark.

Trees see people walk dogs solo
first. Then a woman joins a man or vice
versa or a woman joins a woman or a man
a man so that a lot of these dog walker
walkers — some just friends — some become dog
walkers solo anew (men walking girl’s dog; also
the reverse happens), some dog walkers stop
walking the dog as the dog ages or they move
away where the dog has more trees to pee on —
not so much asphalt and iron-barred rectangles,
things repeating everywhere — so dogs can turn up
snouts to see wide above and sniff breezes chock
full of scents, many trees ranking moist meadows,
trees ranging field boundaries.

Two trees in a city lot. The younger — a maple
you can see by its leaves — leans right
into the neighboring court, obtuse, trying to be
cute and reach over the diamond-web security
fence wired to dark-weathered, thin wood-
lattice sections, whether you’re looking or not,
whether down the back steps or perambulating
what they call an art park, walled and fenced
in, half-plywood half-brick half-iron half-man squared
in half-measures regularly splashed with paint
colors brushed in sprays, curlicues, crimsons and lime
by people who like to see that kind of thing. Its bark
is black with spring showers, its girth is half
the elder tree’s across the paved-earth lot;
the younger tree moves like an alderman
headed this way, slightly, squat, underweight, puzzled.

There are four other trees, all but one mere scrubs,
long and tenacious trunks, a few limbs, their integrity
in their presence, in their being here, in their wiry
grip on fountainheads, in profound sources
unearthed; three ring the box
they all follow after dirtied pickets of fir
on end until two apartment buildings
shoulder it to a stop. The fourth sports
a vine as girdle, its single lobes as shiny as
its greenery. Way at the back, the old
tree towers upright, sends twin
spires stretched skyward the way
root augers earth, built strong and true,
a trunk defying blocks of trench architecture
it wears like brushstrokes repeating,
undermining its teacher, a lesson
reversed to lessen misstatements said
about a steadfast firmament surrounding
tectonic techniques, a confluent
fundament, an unsung figure of unearthly
influence, intruder in the dust, an old
spook still on the ground, a natural born
spy, secrets planted, silent intelligence faked,
a pseudo-science inspired in this respiration.

beats by bjork & arca from "sue me" on utopia 2017


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