October 10, 2007

ode to an elm

not now -

I've always found it rather interesting that, as an artist, one is regularly called upon to renounce and reduce what one loves most, the subject and media of one's art. A collagist must literally cut his papers and collected items to arrange a new item of beauty. An author must reduce his word count for that which he keeps to deliver force. A photographer must eliminate items from his composition. An aroborist must prune in order for a tree to flower and produce to its utmost.

the letting go -

In recent weeks, we have had to cut down one of our trees. The lovely, ginormous, multi-trunked elm tree that graced the view outside my window, specifically. Now, I'm not a tree-hugger, per se. Still, I'm a lot like my dad, a landscaper/arborist whose love for trees is insane. (Family vacations are regularly occupied with him taking pictures of trees, with the rest of us posed underneath for scale.) And really, what artist can help but love the beautiful textures of natural wood, the cragged roughness of its bark, the swirling vortexes of its grain?

against itself - itself to justify -

Yet even with his crazy love for trees, he knows what they need. So when our lovely, ginormous, multi-trunked elm tree succumbed to Dutch elm disease, he did what needed to be done, no turning back.

old elm

Now not even the stump remains.

dad's bootsRenunciation—is a piercing Virtue—
The letting go
A Presence—for an Expectation—
Not now—
The putting out of Eyes—
Just Sunrise—
Lest Day—
Day's Great Progenitor—

Renunciation—is the Choosing
Against itself—
Itself to justify
Unto itself—
When larger function—
Make that appear—
Smaller—that Covered Vision—Here—

~Emily Dickinson, #782


bery said...

I am always sad when a tree gets cut down. Trees represent a living thing that can outlive a human being--even several generations of human beings--and it is a poignant picture of mortality to see one of these perish, be cut down, and its memory erased from the earth.

Skornfield said...

I love this poem. It reminds me of Dr. Lundin