Now when the much-enduring, goodly Odysseus saw him, worn with old age and laden with great grief at heart, he stood still beneath a tall pear tree, and shed tears.
Homer, The Odyssey
My first sight – uncovered, unblinded
In a singing garden of high grass,
Over-weeded in a life-time’s abandonment
There, ‘uncover your eyes’:
What is sighted, seen, what message moves you.
As wood, and tree, and leaf
And fruit and flower unfold before you.
There seen, not imagined, a rest, a seat
A chair, fashioned from trunk, stem, boule
In an earthen serpentine gnarled growth
There emerging, that resting place where
He might survey some dominion, some
Part of land, some estate, some worked lot
Some green and fruitful place…
Seated there, surveying, enclosed, protected
Only summer’s noise…
Hands clasped the rough and crocodile-skinned
Bark, cambium, rings and woodworm holes
Where in the trunk he found a passage
A door. Here lived silent friends, too shy for light
But by night, shy, whispering, playing,
They spoke and lived….
This rooted trunk connected sky and earth
Held together in limb, root, branch
Marked season, saw unfold winter and held
Spring snowdrop; green melded to bronze leaf.
Wasp preyed on fruits and amid bite of ripe
Fruit his lips unfold, as skin loved skin.
How many seasons came and went?
How many loves, tears were seen?
Who passed and ran and lay staring at clouds
Through dappled leaf and branch?
Where far off, war and slaughter
Touched but did not touch the silent growth.
While continents moved, as plates shifted underfoot
The roots bestraddled fault and fault
And held together earth and land and sky…
As a body bears its scars and age, so this friend
Who filled window, view, memory
Saw his body cut and nailed
And now, too old, was cut, felled, milled
Is now another life
Where now, another, stronger grows.
Giles H. Sutherland