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Perpendicular Purpose

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I heard legends, maps to unfold,

Of a tree in Madagascar from which

Nothing can be hung by human hand,

A tree which is not your father,

Allows no hugs or climbing of the back,

Yet liberates you, in that you must not live

Under its shadow, because there

Is not enough (to dwell in), only a little

 

While in the motherland, depending

On the land that crowned you, exists

A tree who has willed itself for thousands

Of years to be your domicile, great and

Grandfatherly, but not brittle, branches

Numerous and too thick to lacerate

Your skin, but whose shade lattices

Your skin, entangles you like a cobweb;

 

From the realm of the lifeless, satellites float

To view in admiration, longing, the busted Earth.

Oceans are the face, transmutable, capricious

As with emotion and foaming at the mouth,

While trees — rooted but rising above

Scalped land — stand as dread-locked hair,

Braced for elemental warfare, to be soaked,

Scrubbed, eventually razed by human hands.

 

Notice their invisibility when clumped, over-

Bearing presence being their ultimate downfall,

Yet absence reads volumes to the passing

Eye, an open graveyard of stumped tombstones

Engraved with the years of their lives

In concentric circles, more than the Inferno

They have seen; pines heard in hell for

Saps capitulating to misunderstanding.

 

Words unspoken, so stolid we cannot

Read them as they stand, must cut them

Open to comprehend how we are

Put together; all these wavering towers

Of Babel, too numerous for deities

To strike down, too simple for mankind

To build, so they are uprooted by wars, boys,

Toys, who catalyze communication with action.

 

I wonder not what they have seen, felt,

But rather what in life has seen or felt

Them, who broke their limbs crudely (only machines

Break cleanly), excess makes them expendable,

Life so abundant: every person certainly

Reincarnated as a tree, every tree

Reincarnated as a tree; each springs life

For death without fear: not saviors, but crosses.

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