the lesser species

i came across a forgotten sugar bush
craggy boles as wide as doors to another time
bark cracking and sap-dampened
     with abandoned tap-holes writing jagged lines
layers of leaf mould counted more than my years
and heartwood ringed older than human endeavors
     on this inhospitable hillside
primordial mother trees these
and all about each grand dame
     her family of fragile infants
two, three palm-shaped leaves on slender sticks
     nodding in the shade
     a carpet of flourishing arboreal futures 
here was a gathering of kin
     a history of long care
     and hope for days unseen
     as real as churned ice cream at any summer reunion
here was love and thoughtful regard
here was peace…
what was i in this place
     but one more fire-breathing interloper
     heedless boots breaking the boughs of saplings
those tappings…
no reason for such profligate sugar in springtime
no reason but generous gift
     conferred upon strangers
would i give my life-blood
     merely to see life blossom in the dark hereafter?
we reserve altruism to our selves
yet here was benevolence embodied
     though lacking voice to vaunt the deed
and i thought
there is no need
when favor is freely given…
would that we had the hearts of maples
would that we could see the charity of a tree
but we close-guard our virtues
     granting no thought to what we can’t comprehend
     and we do not understand the magnanimity of the forest
i would shed this hubris
     learning humility at the roots of the wood
i would know my place
     between soil and leaf-crown
i would see the gift as it is…
here in this ancient grove of kinship
i would be the younger cousin
i would be… the lesser species…

Wednesday Word

for 11 May 2022


This weekend the Full Flower Moon brings a total lunar eclipse that is visible in much of the Western Hemisphere. The moon enters penumbra at 9:31pm on Saturday; totality is at 12:19am on Sunday; and the eclipse is over by 2:52am. So you could see much of this blood moon without losing much sleep. It is worth it. But if you miss it (because weather), there will be another in November this year.

©Elizabeth Anker 2022