Trees are pulped and bleached and flattened
into something one can contribute to,
a blankness that more than allows --
For what could I give to a tree?
Not beauty of form nor complexity
of texture nor hum of life
nor wind songs changing with each
seasonal nuance -- and how many seasons
of earth, air and sun,
unknown to man,
are part of the vocabulary
of even the youngest trees?
I could carve in the bark, "Dean loves Pam"
or "Dolores fucks anyone: Call..." (some
phony 555 number, since even poets
can be sued; lawyers fuck anyone).
These seem a taking, not a giving,
like a green twig of a girl,
her child's face hardened by mascara
and other maskings, tender bare midriff
exposing a small blue butterfly
A giving, that tattoo, or a taking?
She feels unable to contribute
to the beauty of her young body
(not realizing how much her smile
enlightens it), so desecrates it.
What we can't contribute to,
we can destroy. Her tattoo is like
the over-winding of one's first watch.
The window shows me a bristling
of bare branches, to which, just now
(brief but indelible) a cardinal
[A friend replies, we give the trees our
exhalations, carbon dioxide. But that's
a fair trade: They give us oxygen, so that
we can inhale in order to exhale. It's like
a kiss on the lips, given and taken
in both directions equally. Or since each breathes
what the other wastes, it's like sniffing
each other's farts -- what could be
Note: Remember, readers, when wrist watches needed winding,
and one could ruin a watch by over-winding it? In this digitized
world, our digits grow slack from lack of exercise nothing
to wind! (Our old watches are gone with their wind.)