There’s a tree that enlarges nature and looks like
ganglia—I mean snaky synapse, making contact
with an animating current—a leap to life. When I
first took it in, I saw only a Quasimodo awkwardness
that gave way in moments to my trust in its presence
and goodness, to its core and its name itself—
The Valley Oak. It’s not your every-day tree, though
who, with sense, can spurn the miracle of any tree?
This one, though, wraps my body into it with firmness,
without which, in me, a loneliness, only looking, and
lacking that enfolding. Now solid in its impregnable
sanctum I see, surprised, the shade it provides cows,
languorous, in blistering summer sun. My friend Marv
sent me a picture—haunting—of this tree just past dawn
in the mist of early Spring in northern California, and my
visual contact with it again thrust me into the folds
of a visionary week, its image hazy in the mist . Rather,
it fades true, as a ganglion ghost—gnarly, twisted
branches—into the hooded background of a muscled
fence, twin posts cradling rails between them; a sturdy
bracing in tune—a guardian brother holding dense
faith alongside the its massive trunk—all of it of a
piece, a bordered block of pulse churned full by
an abundance of ground water and a root system to pierce
the deepest mind. This lordly umbrella, its buds budding,
wider than it is tall, is lifting towards 100 feet, yet bending
low, patient, warm. ready always to receive my advance,
its density an availed purity.
I live like a king. How can I be like this tree?
From Allan Cox’s collection, “In the Middle of Time.”Copyright© 2009, all rights reserved.
Causes Allan Cox Supports
Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago, Gilda's Club (cancer) Chicago, Martin Marty Center, University of Chicago, Iona Center, Healdsburg, CA (all 401-C-3s...