30 December 2010


I have been experiencing some notable synchronicity involving trees. I am reading Ovid's Metamorphosis which contains a few tree stories so far:
Myrrha is transformed to a myrrh tree after her incestuous relationship with her father.
Cyparissus who loved a deer and would walk with it in the woods. Hunting, he accidentally killed it and felt intense guilt and sorrow; he begged Apollo to let him mourn his dearest friend. Apollo granted his wish and turned into a cypress tree - today a sign of mourning and also one of my favorite trees.
Pyramus and Thisbe planned to meet under the mulberry tree, and that is where they died. Their blood stained the white berries burgundy. This story is the inspiration for Romeo & Juliet.
There is another that I cannot recall, but that really moved me. Anyway, I am enjoying Ovid.
I have encountered the story of the man who kills the oldest tree in the world, apotentially the oldest living being in the world - a 5000 year old bristlecone pine. He is an geologist studying climate change and he ends up studying salt basins (because of his deed?). It is amazing to think of accidentally destroying something that has witnessed time since known civilization.
So, this led to other research and baobab trees, as featured in the little prince and the African savanna, are potentially a thousand years older.
More amazing are clonal trees, which clone from pre-existing root systems. These are not so impressive on a mythical scale because they are not individual, but some aspen (as featured in John Denver songs) 'colonies' are estimated at at least 80,000 (& possibly as much as 1 million) years old. What is the consciousness of a tree? What is the consciousness of a tree colony?

I have also happened upon a few poems and songs, but for some reason, failed to annotate them so they are lost somewhere in my mind.
..and from Moby Dick there was something...

So this is an old (rather unfinished) poem from when I wrote poems. It needs a LOT of work, but here it is.

Night –
Night’s single talon wraps low around reaching tree branches-
A stretching Adam across black ceiling: forearm torn, knotted stiff.

Night’s thousand eyes strain to glimpse earth, penned angles -
clambering and falling wingless to ash and dust.

Night’s hemorrhage labors and conceives light –
Supersonic afterbirth of the sun:
Savant offspring, mayfly lifespan.

Night’s death falls staining the sky:
Neck coiled back in rigor mortis,
Red excrement left in the west

The Sun
He is born an orphan – inheritor to murder He
Burns with guilt and indiscretion

The Sun speeds unseen toward one thing,
Pursuing the western star – His own aborted brother

The sun sheds uncounted skins each day
Living off self, possessed by ends

The Sun shows His age in His eyes –
And like a feral dog, climbs
Mountains alone to Death

Trees –
Trees go naked in mourning – pulling hair in agony.

Trees gather bouquets for the dead, but stand
unmoved, unbowed. Only sighing new breath silently

Trees think always slowly
Deliberate and full
Of many questions

Tree reaches to the sky in agony of straight locked arms
Just one longer day and night?

So you've read it. (warning: poem spoiler) It is pretty much a consideration of what the mythology of trees might be, experiencing the rush of days and nights upon each other and the worship of the sun. For some reason, overlaid with analogies from Judeo/Christian mythologies. Don't ask me why. Well you can ask if you want


Finally, there is a smog song, Rock Bottom Riser. At the time, Bill Callahan was dating Joanna Newsom, who lives/ed in Nevada City.I think perhaps that he is singing of or at least metaphorically referring to swimming in the Yuba River. When I see him, I will ask him.

I saw a gold ring
At the bottom of the river
Glinting at my foolish heart
So my foolish heart
Had to go diving
Diving, diving, diving
Into the murk

And from the bottom of the river
I looked up for the sun
Which had shattered in the water
And pieces were rained down
Like gold rings
That passed through my hands
As I thrashed and I grabbed
I started rising, rising, rising

I am a rock bottom riser...

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