This entry is part 12 of 34 in the series Small World


With some trees, the knotholes
are among the last things to go.
You can find them staring up
from the ground, eye sockets
that never belonged to a skull.

It makes sense that trees would grow
their hardest wood around the weakest
points in their architecture.
This is called the branch collar,
& it is woven with wood
first from the branch
as it overlaps onto the trunk
& then from the trunk
as it overlaps onto the branch.

Behind the collar, in the parent
trunk or limb, the branch core forms:
a cone of decay-resistant wood
shaped like a spear with the flared
base facing outward, keeping
the agents of rot at bay
long after the rest of the branch
has fallen off. This is the knot.

Arborists talk of intergrown
& encased knots, loose & sound
& pin knots, red & black knots.
We who know them only from lumber
might imagine hard pills the tree
had been unable to dissolve.
We would not be wrong.
Each time a tree says yes to the sun
a no begins to form, firm & sharp
& pointed inward.

Based on a photo post from March 2011.

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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).


    1. Thanks, I’m glad that worked for you. To me, it feels like the rhythm is slightly off — like the last phrase needs one more beat — but as far as what it has to say, I don’t think it needs another word.


  1. ‘Tis reassuring to know that you’re still there and still flourishing and still caring and
    still chuckling.
    I don’t do much with my Dell these days and nights (I prefer the telephone–voices tell
    more, whatever they may be saying).
    I like your photo. . .ah, memories.
    Jack died April 24th this year. I’m still plugging along, getting by with lots of fun with my friends. Also with 3-digit temperatures–I Love Them–and a nearby pool and icewater and books and sleep and fraps and conversations and women-circles. . .
    Hugs, love, laughter, & Blessed be, jo


  2. I love this and re-love the original post with its fab photos….truly a gem.


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