Pear Tree

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
October 2006

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