The Hundred Year Oak

The hundred year oak is gone.* It was rotted out and struck by lightning and the Inda boys came and cut it down and sawed it up. It is stacked in stove-sized pieces in the wood shed behind the cabin.

There is a big, new stump at the shore. But the hundred year oak remains. Even when the stump is gone I shall remember its place. The hundred year oak doesn't go away. Neither does the land go away, the land that you have known and lived on. The land is remembered. There is neither simply land then, nor simply memory. It happens if you are lucky to have lived in a place, really lived in it.

They cut down the hundred year oak, and it is still there. It is there just as my grandfather is there on the frozen lake when I pause while cutting a hole for fishing and in the morning quiet look down the channel at the sun coming up over the pines; it is there just as my grandmother is there walking the old path along the shore and pointing out the first shoots of skunk cabbage in the spring. Look down too for the marsh marigolds, she said. Look down to see the spring, she said. Look down.

* Rings on the trunk date the oak at 157 years. The usual life of an oak tree is 80 to 100 years.


Fear The Gods

my iglu after the rain
1. The prideful man declares in what and in whom he believes. But the gods are only to be feared. What is mysterious and powerful and beyond men are facts he must simply accept. To believe is to impose upon the gods. Do not believe in gods. Fear them.

2. Understanding, even dignity, begins in fear.

3. Nuannaarpoq (Inuit): to take extravagant pleasure in being alive


Poetry from the Black Poet

A poem written for me by La Poeta Negro de Ibarra, Ecuador and my translation of it.
Ignoto amigo, polen de luz
Libélula en lo que oida de polen de arrebol
Antorcha de enardecido viento es
Tu rebelde caballero de pensador
Tu corazón es una lágrima de lluvia
Que nadie mina caer
Tu pensamiento es perfecto, pero helado
Como las lenizas de la muerte
En los labios candorosas de la vida
No ames la filosofía
Ama el espejo triste y mustio
De los corazónes de los locos
Llena tus bolsillos de viento
Y tendras no la fealdad de las palabras
Y sera tuya
La impressible belleza perfecta del cielo.
Undiscovered friend, pollen of light
Dragonfly that heeds the pollen of the setting sun
A torch of wind inflamed,
You noble rebel of thought
Your heart is a tear of rain
That no one can undermine to fail

Your thought is perfect, but cold
Like a game of death
On the outspoken lips of life
You love not philosophy,
But love instead the sad and cloudy mirror
Of the fool’s heart

Go fill your pockets with wind
And having no longer the ugliness of words
All shall be yours
The perfect, impressible beauty of the heavens.
Copyright © Moraline Free