Tree-sitter

It sat down in my pool.
Swayed like a sapling.
Spoke to me in its dreams,
which were as plush as truffles
fruiting in the dark.
Luna, it said, Luna— as if I
were its pale progenitor.

Others of its kind boiled in & out
like tiny, earth-bound storms,
chewing with a fury,
& my cousins shook the mountain
when they came down.
My strange familiar clung to me
with its naked forelimbs & howled.

It had one short root with which
it communicated to others
of its kind, reaching through
the air somehow.
Where did it go, that larva?
Did it ever manage to spin
a real cocoon?

Legacy of Luna

Submissions for the next edition of the Festival of the Trees are due Monday — March 30. Details here.

12 Comments


  1. Wow:

    Spoke to me in its dreams,
    which were as plush as truffles
    fruiting in the dark.

    This poem is powerful.

    Reply

  2. It feels like there are many worlds here. It’s hard to say just what I mean. Or maybe many layers is better. “My strange familiar clung to me with its forelimbs and howled.” I love that.

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    1. Thanks. I have a feeling I’m not done with this one yet, but it was surprising the way it started to feel like a success as soon as I dropped all female pronouns. I reasoned that since the tree is both male and female, it would tend to think of other beings in the same way. But the main effect of the switch was just to make everything that much stranger.

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  3. Now this is peculiar. Two in a row where we have something pronounced in common. And the book you cite is one of the ones I read to prepare for the book that’s coming out in late April, which takes place almost entirely in, under, or atop very big trees.

    One weird old way of looking at trees says that they have solar or lunar energy, and that’s linked to the sexes. So perhaps you were quite right to avoid the “luna” female when dealing with a “sola” redwood tree!

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    1. I am so looking forward to Val/Orson, Marly! I’m glad I didn’t know this folk-belief when I wrote the poem, though. It’s much more fun to invent one’s own myths out of whole cloth.

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  4. Yes, I know what you mean! Knowing too much can be a burden, and not knowing is more like being a child–in that odd situation of insufficient information where guess and utterance can be stranger and more magical than ordinary speech.

    I think it is going to be a very lovely book. Clive and Robert both put a lot of time into the jacket (or cover, for the second edition), and it is scrumptious. Can’t wait to see the end papers. Red or indigo? There’s an interesting introductory essay by Catherynne Valente as well. Hope you like it–I always wanted to write a book set in trees, and I had in mind something of the spirit of a Shakespearean forest romance. So I hope it lives up to the beautiful jacket/cover.

    Reply

    1. Sounds splendid. Needless to say, I’ll be happy to review it for the Festival of the Trees.

      On the subject of not knowing, I’m sure a lot of intellectuals would cringe to hear this, but in recent years I’ve tended to avoid reading works of theory and philosophy that sound as if they’re too close to my own thinking, because I don’t want to deprive myself of the pleasure of working things out on my own. For example, I’ve picked up some Foucalt and Paul Shepherd books at book sales, and dipped into them just enough to know that if I read further, I’d be unable to resist discipleship. So I stopped.

      Reply

  5. Hah, I entirely forgot about the Festival of Trees. That would be lovely…

    That does sound like you somehow, and I’m entirely with you on the desire for the freshness that comes with discovery.

    I decided that I would just send you my Clive-sequence, so look in the mailbox!

    Reply

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