Monday, October 03, 2005

symmetrical forests

climbing up the mount surrounded by great artisans (whom i shall not name), i found myself watching my footing along the root studded path. not gazing at the trees and scenes, though my photographer friend would point out a golden aspen glittering in the sun and run off to catch a glimpse of it.

butterflies are like grace. i said.
so are aspens. he replied. and darted off to capture grace.

i did not get it. i could not see it. my eyes were not seeking mystery, merely compassion.

i, the poet, was dull to the beauty, save that pointed out for me. i was not there to see the trees. i was there for the company. for the community. for the peopled solitude i often inhabit.

i found that there are voices which fray my nerves. there are also voices with a hint of joy, which soothe me. and those were the voices i wanted to hear. the voices tempered with honesty. the voices loud and full of certainty. the voices clear of tears, uninhibited by the tentativeness of uncertainty.

i did not make it to the cascading falls, which was our destination. i turned back. i descending down with a dear soul whose arthritic hip slowed our pace so i did not have to feel guilty for my lack of stamina and windedness in the altitudes. i could mete out my steps slowly, pensively. while we spoke of things and poetry, my favorite subject.

but after the path widened to the parking lot, i found a tree to perch upon. one felled and rested where my feet reached the ground (a marvelous comfort more than the long legged can imagine). and i listened to the gossipping brook. that was a voice that gentled me this weekend. one i could lose and find myself in.

a pine tree, perfectly formed, held my gaze and i began to realize it was the symmetrical beauty tree farmers pine for. in any other unprotected setting, this little beauty would have been doomed to hold up glittering balls and lights until it were faded brown and a certain hazard. then it would be drug curbside and abandoned to landfill where its future would not be to grow.

beside the little pine was a giant. i cranked my head back to take it all in. it towered above me like the empire state building and i was in awe. i looked at the little pine growing in its shelter and realized, this is what we do to poetry.

we cut off the little beauty, because we can. by our critiques and group think bring things into symmetry. we are in a sense, creating symmetrical forests.

the word that kept coming to me as i sat looking at the tree was compassion. compassion for the work of others, compassion for my own work. as we drove from the forest i noted the awkward bends of some trees, how some limbs face only one direction. how felled wood creates angles and beams to rival the greatest cathedral. how little ill-formed trees had grown into mighty ill-formed trees and the beauty was immense.

the beauty of the forest is its asymmetry.

perhaps my gangly poems, my ill formed works are the very stuff of beauty in my artist life. perhaps they will stand one day proud and tall, rivaling symmetrical giants. but i must not fell them. or let them be felled.

i must not fell the works of others. but let them grow. encourage their diverse beauty. and most of all, have compassion.

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