To Dorothy

To Dorothy

by Marvin Bell

You are not beautiful, exactly.
You are beautiful, inexactly.
You let a weed grow by the mulberry
And a mulberry grow by the house.
So close, in the personal quiet
Of a windy night, it brushes the wall
And sweeps away the day till we sleep.

A child said it, and it seemed true:
“Things that are lost are all equal.”
But it isn’t true. If I lost you,
The air wouldn’t move, nor the tree grow.
Someone would pull the weed, my flower.
The quiet wouldn’t be yours. If I lost you,
I’d have to ask the grass to let me sleep.

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Published in: on September 17, 2009 at 4:41 am  Comments (1)  
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My Father and the Fig Tree

My Father and the Fig Tree

by Naomi Shihab Nye

For other fruits, my father was indifferent.
He’d point at the cherry trees and say,
“See those?  I wish they were figs.”
In the evening he sat by my beds
weaving folktales like vivid little scarves.
They always involved a figtree.
Even when it didn’t fit, he’d stick it in.
Once Joha was walking down the road
and he saw a fig tree.
Or, he tied his camel to a fig tree and went to sleep.
Or, later when they caught and arrested him,
his pockets were full of figs.

At age six I ate a dried fig and shrugged.
“That’s not what I’m talking about! he said,
“I’m talking about a fig straight from the earth –
gift of Allah! —  on a branch so heavy
it touches the ground.
I’m talking about picking the largest, fattest,
sweetest fig
in the world and putting it in my mouth.”
(Here he’d stop and close his eyes.)

Years passed, we lived in many houses,
none had figtrees.
We had lima beans, zucchini, parsley, beets.
“Plant one!” my mother said.
but my father never did.
He tended garden half-heartedly, forgot to water,
let the okra get too big.
“What a dreamer he is.  Look how many
things he starts and doesn’t finish.”

The last time he moved, I got a phone call,
My father, in Arabic, chanting a song
I’d never heard. “What’s that?”
He took me out back to the new yard.
There, in the middle of Dallas, Texas,
a tree with the largest, fattest,
sweetest fig in the world.
“It’s a figtree song!” he said,
plucking his fruits like ripe tokens,
emblems, assurance
of a world that was always his own.

(from19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East)

Published in: on June 21, 2009 at 6:51 am  Leave a Comment  
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Evolution

Evolution

by Greg Boyd

Somehow a crackpot biologist figures out how to grow a money

tree. When the first bud breaks, Grant’s face unfolds. Then the tree

doubles in size daily, until it’s taller than a redwood, its branches

broader than an oak’s. And still it grows, cracking sidewalks and

toppling buildings as its trunk widens, draining lakes and diverting

rivers as its root system stretches, eclipsing the sun as its billions

of branches, each bristling with hundred-dollar leaves, bud and

sprout. Giant seed coins explode like popcorn, fall to the earth, and

blossom overnight. Among men, those best suited for survival grow

wings with which to fly to trees. They dot the leaves like aphids, their

tiny mouths tearing at the green.

Published in: on May 30, 2009 at 8:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Man Who Wishes To Feed On Mahogany

The Man Who Wishes To Feed On Mahogany

by Annie Dillard

Chesterton tells us that if someone wished to feed exclusively on mahogany, poetry would not be able to express this. Instead, if a man happens to love and not be loved in return, or if he mourns the absence or loss of someone, then poetry is able to express these feelings precisely because they are commonplace.
-Borges, Interview in Encounter, April 1969

Not the man who wishes to feed on mahogany
and who happens to love and not be loved in return;
not mourning in autumn the absence or loss of someone,
remembering how, in a yellow dress, she leaned
light-shouldered, lanky, over a platter of pears-
no; no tricks. Just the man and his wish, alone.

That there should be mahogany, real, in the world,
instead of no mahogany, rings in his mind
like a gong-that in humid Haitian forests are trees
hard trees, not holes in air, not nothing, no Haiti
no zone for trees nor time for wood to grow:
reality rounds his mind like rings in a tree.

Love is the factor, love is the type, and the poem.
Is love a trick, to make him commonplace?
He wishes, cool in his windy rooms. He thinks:
of all earth’s shapes, her coils, rays, and nets,
mahogany I love, this sunburnt red,
this close-grained, scented slab, my fellow creature.

He knows he can’t feed on the wood he loves, and he won’t.
But desire walks on lean legs down halls of his sleep,
desire to drink and sup at mahogany’s mass.
His wishes weight his belly. Love holds him here,
love nails him to the world, this windy wood,
as to a cross. Oh, this lanky, sunburnt cross!

Is he sympathetic? Do you care?
And you, sir: perhaps you wish to feed
on your bright-eyed daughter, on your baseball glove,
on your outboard motor’s pattern in the water.
Some love weights your walking in the world;
some love molds you heavier than air.

Look at the world, where vegetation spreads
and peoples air with weights of green desire.
Crosses grow as trees and grasses everywhere,
writing in wood and leaf and flower and spore,
marking the map, “Some man love here;
and one loved something here; and here; and here.

(From Tickets For A Prayer Wheel by Annie Dillard.)

Published in: on May 20, 2009 at 4:34 am  Leave a Comment  
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