Monday, June 04, 2012

The Green Feathery Tree

author's note:

“Green leaves–you may believe this or not–
  have once or twice
  burst from the tips of my fingers.”
                            -- Mary Oliver


I chopped down
the green feathery tree
because I wanted control

over all my kingdom--!--

but as if to spite me
the green feathery tree
shot right back up

I yanked its stubborn feet
and long toes
from the ground--!--

but then the soil washed away--
the earth itself ran from me--

with nothing to stand on
I slipped all the way
down the ravine

and at the bottom
the water, in disgust
quickly evaporated.

Thus, I gasped for breath
as I flopped in the mud
on the dead riverbed--

somehow I'd lost my limbs--!

Finally, in desperation
I began to crawl on my belly--
began to wiggle my way up
the slimy cliffside--
wanting only to return
to where I had been

and in the process
of struggling to gain a foothold
I sprouted hooves
then legs and feet

and while trying
to grasp the rocks
I grew arms and paws
with claws

then fingers for those nails

and though this growing
caused me much pain
the higher I climbed
the higher I wanted to climb--

having lost the earth
I'd come to love the Earth
and the more I loved the Earth
the more I loved the sky

until the wings of this love
sprouted from my spine--

at first, these wings worked
and strained
then they learned to glide.

But once the wings had lifted me
to the clouds
my love of the Earth
brought me back down--
set me down
on the ledge of the ravine

and because I was so happy
to see the Earth, the Earth
welcomed me, embraced my feet
and long toes--the water flowed
back to greet me--!

But though rooted again
I still yearned for the sky--

thus, my limbs grew up
and my fingers leafed out:
in this way, I live
in both places at once

and no longer play king--
instead, I stake my place
as strong humble servant.

© 2012, Michael R. Patton
dreaming steps

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