Having spent yesterday weeding and trying to ready a garden plot, for this years vegetables. I spent a good part of yesterday with my hands in the dirt, hunched over and seeing how much the soil teems with life–beetles and spiders, worms and slugs and the odd gardner snake warming herself on a stone. In the northern hemisphere Easter coincides with new life and growth. So I thought it appropriate to share some poems which reflect on this seasonal rising. Below are two poems taken from Luci Shaw’s The Green Earth: Poems of Creation and one poem from Wendell Berry’s A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997.
From Luci Shaw
Rising: the Underground Tree
(Cornus sanguinea and cornus candensis)
One spring in Tennessee I walked a tunnel
under dogwood trees, noting the petals
(in fours like crosses) and at each tender apex
four russet stains dark as Christ’s wounds.
I knew that with the year the dogwood flower heads
would ripen into berry clusters bright as drops of gore.
Last week, a double-click on Botony
startled me with the kinship of those trees
and bunchberries, whose densely crowded mat
carpets the deep woods around my valley cabin.
Only their flowers — those white quartets of petals –
suggest the blood relationship. Since then I see
the miniature leaves and buds as tips of trees
burgeoning underground, knotted roots like limbs
pushing up to light through rocks and humus.
The pure cross-flowers at my feet redeem
their long, dark burial in the ground, show how even
a weight of stony soil cannot keep Easter at bay.
The tree, a beech, casts the
melancholy of shadow across the road.
It seems to bear the enormous weight of
the sky on the tips of its branches.
The smooth trunk invites me to finger
five bruise-dark holes where rot
was cut away. Years have pursed
the thickened skin around the scars
into the mouths that sigh,
As the hurt feels me out,
wind possesses the tree and
overheard a hush comes; not that
all other sounds die, but half a million
beech leaves rub together in the air,
washing out bird calls, footsteps,
filling my ears with the memory of
old pain and a song of cells in the sun.
“Hush,” they say with green lips.
From Wendell Berry
Another Sunday morning comes
And I resume the standing Sabbath
Of the woods, where the finest blooms
Of time return, and where no path
Is worm, but wears its maker out.
At last, and disappears in leaves
Of fallen seasons. The tracked rut
Fills and levels; here nothing grieves
In the risen season. Past life
Lives in the living. Resurrection
Is in the way each maple leaf
Commemorates its kind, by connection
Outreaching understanding. What rises
Rises into comprehension
And beyond. Even falling raises
In praise of light. What is begun
Is unfinished. And so the mind
That comes to rest among the bluebells
Comes to rest in motion, refined
By alteration. The bud swells,
Opens, makes seed, falls, is well,
Being becoming what is:
Miracle and parable
Exceeding thought, because it is
Immeasurable; the understander
Encloses understanding, thus
Darkens the light. We can stand under
No ray that is not dimmed by us.
The mind that comes to rest is tended
In ways that it cannot intend:
Is borne, preserved, and comprehended
By what it cannot comprehend.
Your Sabbath, Lord thus keeps us by
Your will, not ours. And it is fit
Our only choice should be to die
Into that rest, or out of it.