Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Bird in the Tree Did What?

THE LAWRENCE TREE by Georgia O'Keefe, 1929

A bird somewhere high up
In that maple tree shit on
This poem I’m writing.

We don’t need to lay our theories on the world. “The world is its own magic.” That’s what Suzuki said. A bird, for instance, somewhere high up in that maple tree just shit on this poem I’m writing. True story. Me and the bird, we’re together purely by accident in this brick canyon between 107th and 106th streets, New York City. It’s a beautiful morning. A bird-shitting, poem-making morning. On the other side of the fence is a gigantic oak tree with big fleshy leaves that flutter in the breeze eight stories above my head. What are those stories, I wonder, not the human stories, but the stories of the oak tree? I remember Georgia O’Keefe’s tree. The one she painted while visiting D.H. Lawrence at his ranch in the Sierra Sangre de Cristo above Taos. 1929. Her tree was a ponderosa pine, and beyond it was the deep infinite ocean of the New Mexico night sky. I've sat under that tree myself, 1996. The same tree that, in the river of itself, is a different tree now. And like that ancient Ponderosa Pine, this oak tree next door, with its many helter-skelter branches and leaves, perfectly expresses itself. A perfect expression of the universe. Form is emptiness and emptiness is form. And then we take the next step outside the door where form becomes form again just as emptiness becomes emptiness. Nothing is added, unless you count these words I write, watching the oak tree perform its exquisitely slow dance. Summer and autumn, winter and spring.  Summer and autumn, winter and spring. The tree will be dancing long after I am dead. Why do we need to know? Why do we need anything else?

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