OPERATION LOST BORDERS DAY #21: SWEET ARE THE USES OF ADVERSITY

From 10,000 feet you can see 100 miles. From 10,000 years you can see 100 centuries on a clear day.

Some of these tree people were infants, little arbolitos, before there was such a thing as the Vedas or Greek civilization, before the great pyramid or Socrates teaching that wisdom begins in wonder. Indeed, before empire cast its myriad spells.

I am 100th the age of the eldest here. I consider how much I’ve grown in just one year and imagine thousands. Imagine what glorious mid-life crises they must have enjoyed!!

They do their Dolomitic dance and thrive on exposure—roots, bark, the elements. They can lose 90% of their bark, exposing their gorgeous striated inner wood, and still stand up straight to bark at the moon.

Talk about vulnerability.

It’s taken me four decades just to figure out which soil to grow in and how to be utterly and unabashedly myself. And I figure I still have roughly 49% bark left.

All hail the great Tree Elders!

AND LOVE IS A TREE IS A HUMAN IS

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The idea of what a Tree is
Is hugely variable
Is not different
than an idea of what
a Human is. A Human Is
a creature that creates
is a being that emotes
that aesthetes that prosthetes
is part mammal part microbial mama is
part plant part star
part purr part roar
Part silent looking up yonder
part soaking up water under
What a Human is a Tree is
a promise is
permeable to clouds and Love
and Love is something
Humans and Trees exchange
and Love is
a Tree is a Human is something
the idea of which
Is highly variable

REST STOP ON THE ROAD TO SPRING

63776D44-1BC4-4F64-A6F2-FC5C507D01FFIt’s midwinter
and the cherry blossoms
rub their eyes in disbelief

Because the sky has greyed
its guts out
for a fortnight
and are shocked to see
so many noses on their porch steps.

But we noticed
and we took a little deeper breath.

Rather, the breath took us.

That some things fall
and others hurl themselves
toward the moon

That all must be seen
and all must be lost

is a long and hard truth.

But to arrive at this—
that even the mighty sky
is attracted
to the finest forest duff
to learn humility

and sends it’s love letters
soaked with joy and longing.

While old limbs are devastated
by winter’s breath
in all the best ways
and the mushrooms
take their cue.

That the breaking down
and growing out
slide simultaneously against one another
as the closest of friends
that generates its own kind
of warmth.

While sometimes it seems
we’re all just trying to thrive out here
in the vast loneliness

Stung from walking
so, so long
through the seasons

looking for friends
and a rest stop
on the road to spring
to warm our feet
and sooth our eyes

Saying, will you walk
with me
for a little while?

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FIREWOOD

456DA4C1-C378-4C88-BAB5-E2BB493D9918Chainsaws are not the instrument of love
its noise does not a sonnet make, and yet
’twas earnest hearts that split the fir to chunks
a loving zip that made a cord of trunks

The sounds of the tools of worker bees
hastens through boughs of autumn trees
a buzz that carries a bold force through wood
as much as through their bones and blood

So cutting to the facts of things: the sweat
and dust amidst the sun and fumes, the threat
of falling discs of log and muscles tense
screaming saw and skin, the pungent scents

No easy piles of gold are these, but stacks
and acts of axes from those heaving backs—
such is the controlled violence of the men
cleaving trees that will warm a winter den

All the freedom’s found in bodies roving
past the paths and beyond fences roaming
Chainsaws are not the instrument of love
its noise does not a sonnet make, and yet…
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(Dedicated my buddy Aaron and Robert Frost. Yes I’m smelling the freshly cut (already fallen) fir, so foresty sweet.)A526EB86-D3BC-4C1D-AE06-89DC299EC39D

 

BY WHAT WIND

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Like limbs thrown down and wildly thrashed
a harvest of a mighty breath
the soft cables of our bond
so quickly cut, so soon withdrawn

By what savage gale overthrown
or by what wrenching circuit blown
this force that together drew
now splits us into more than two?

Oh rage that fells the solid spruce
and rips the redwood roots so loose!
Only a dizziness remains
debris from feral hurricane

It is not yet known why we agree
to that first long, unfathomed fall
when a deeper one is guaranteed
and tied to the end of it all

Or why, with that first flirty start
we court our own slow aching heart
Or do we give wind consent
to our own imminent descent?

—Ryan Van Lenning

 

IN THIS DEEP

93FC754B-79DC-4382-88D7-A1CC22C300B5What could send me down this far
But your wild path bizarre?
Who could bring me down this deep
But your crooked steady stream?

All bowed over and needles fine
You curvy as the number nine
Stitched together in woodly scents
to pitch me in here like a tent

Red o red o green o green
I wondered if you heard my screams
Flow and free and green serene
I wondered if you’d seen my dreams

Branched like brooks like roots like lungs
Inside me run your ancient tongues
Your hermit thrush to tuck me in
Then golden-green to wake again

Redly barked and greenly packed
I wondered if you’d bring me back
The world’s noise had got me good
Until you whispered through my blood

What could send me down this far
but your wild path bizarre?
Who could bring me in this deep
But your steadfast summoning?

—Ryan Van Lenning
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You can get my books RE-MEMBERING: Poems of Earth & Soul, and High-Cooing Through the Seasons: Haiku From the Forest through your local bookstore, on Amazon or Indiebound. My book of mystical poems, Silence Begins Here, and book of love and erotic poetry, Wild Rose Hips, will be out later this year. Follow me @ryanreturntotheearth for ecosensual mythopoetic inspiration and @wildnatureheartfor my heart-centered nature connection & 1-on-1 inner/outer wilderness work.