Palimpsest

turning the page

At last the author relinquishes his hold on the book he has been struggling to finish for almost a century. There’s a sound like the rapid turning of pages, or the beating of wings.

leaning tree

Two vultures were circling low above the treetops, as if in a slow-motion chase. I watched their shadows move through the forest, sliding up and down trunks and gliding over the shiny leaves of the laurel. On a cool morning, they were looking for light and warmth like everyone else. They were looking for a lift.

It’s not the vultures’ fault if their very name provokes fear and revulsion, simply because we are ashamed of where we came from. We too are scavengers with naked faces and an aesthetic preference for clean, straight bones. In the middle of the day, when the predators retreat to the shade, we venture out, alert to the crushed leaf, the snapped twig, the blood-dark berry. Stark contrasts are pleasing to us. The savanna — half grass, half trees — was our founding parchment, and we return to that garden every chance we get.

birth of a tree

At this very moment, in some back garden in Damascus, a brand-new tree is struggling to be born.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave's writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the "share alike" provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

11 Comments


  1. What a great couple of opening lines. I also like the “founding parchment” line and, it goes without saying, the ending. This post is so tight, but it also breaths real slow. So enjoyable.

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  2. Like Peter, I love the opening lines, and the ending. An ode to an amazing individual who passed on today?

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  3. A fine piece, adore the beginning about the author and
    the century-long book, this really strikes my fancy.
    Wonderful how you “capture” the heart of the vulture.

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  4. Dafve
    I came here
    (strolling through Bloglines)
    just after reading beth’s latest entry
    at the cassandra pages

    this is a fantastic tribute

    Reply

  5. Did you invert the bottom photo? It’s wonderful in this context, even better for having been inverted, if it was.

    I recently learned that in Kabballah the Tree of Life has its roots in the sky and its top pointing toward earth.

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  6. I actually hadn’t cried before this, Dave, but there are tears running down my cheeks now. Thank you for allowing his life to move through you and out again.

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  7. Thanks for the comments. I’m glad this works both as a stand-alone post and as a tribute to Beth’s father-in-law.

    Peter – Yes, the bottom photo is inverted. I might publish a right-sight-up version at the photo blog later on today. I wasn’t consciously thinking of the Kabbalistic tree, but it’s an image I often dwell upon. Lightning is another upside-down tree.

    Reply

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