Robert S. King
THE LANGUAGE OF TREES
If we had as many arms as trees have limbs,
as many hands as trees have leaves,
would we have then their language of touch,
their longer fingers branching out, a sense
of standing tall, a sense of falling, a sense of place
where we might grow down in roots,
grow up to mountaintops?
Do leaves feel the weeping of wind and sky,
the pincers of insects, the saws cutting
through the nerves down to the roots?
Do all trees pull together to reach the sun?
Do they shed their hopes in the cold mask
of darkness and snow? Do they wave
their limbs in sign language?
Do they lean on one another through the storm?
Only felling shows us the history of trees.
Their long lives grow in widening circles,
in seasons telling their stories in a tongue
we partly understand.
Some are lines they’ve crossed and grown beyond.
Rippling waves from the heart, a silent
ringing out may show us the way trees dream,
the way their souls connect on common ground.
From the mouth of a hollow ring,
does one cry to another as it falls?
Author’s Comment: There are certain symbols in nature that invite the muse. To me, trees are among those symbols. I’ve always found them to be like people, albeit a little more physically rooted down. Even though trees stand independently of one another, I sense a community of spirit and a communion with the creatures and elements of nature that touch them.
Bio: Robert S. King lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia. His poems have appeared in hundreds of magazines, including California Quarterly, Chariton Review, Hollins Critic, Kenyon Review, Main Street Rag, Midwest Quarterly, Negative Capability, and Southern Poetry Review,. He has published three chapbooks (When Stars Fall Down as Snow, Garland Press 1976; Dream of the Electric Eel, Wolfsong Publications 1982; and The Traveller’s Tale, Whistle Press 1998). His full-length collections are The Hunted River and The Gravedigger’s Roots, both from Shared Roads Press, 2009. He recently stepped down as Director of FutureCycle Press in order to devote more time to his own writing. He continues to serve the press as Poetry Co-Editor.