"Slowing Down" -- April 25, National Poetry Month
with their ugly blunt
snouts, their lumpish
backs, their mouths
that hang gaping
like an empty tomb,
they look like Zeus’s discarded
They swim languidly
in the frigid waters, rarely
disturbed by human intervention,
and if they are caught by seafarers’ nets,
they are as welcome as mold
on crusts of bread.
Yet some of them are alive today
who were born before Columbus.
Pando is a colony of trees,
swaying in the heat of a Utah summer,
shaking along with the waves of wind
blessed to be anointed as quaking aspens.
When the breezes come,
they do not fight,
when lighting strikes, they do not surrender.
No one tree
is alive for forever,
but the roots bind them all
to the earth in which they were born,
and the colony has been there for 80,000 years.
I mention these things
because I wake some mornings
wanting to be productive,
proactive, grinding, working,
making sure no one thinks I am lazy,
making sure everyone knows
how hard it is to be.
But other mornings,
I wake wanting to slow down, take deep
breaths, be alive in every present moment.
On these mornings I remember Greenland sharks,
Pando quaking aspens,
redwoods, coral reefs,
sea turtles, whales,
and thankfully the written word.
I wake and remember
Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi,
a fig tree alive now for 2,308 years,
and while there are older trees around the earth,
this is the oldest one known
to have been planted by human hands.
This makes me smile.
That is what I really want:
To carefully, gently, reverently,
plant something that I will
never see grow old,
to slowly tend to its roots,
to pour water over it like a daily baptism,
to watch it blossom,
to see it bear fruit,
to close my eyes beneath its ever-widening shadow,
and to fall asleep, content,
knowing it will still be there.