Thursday, March 17, 2016

American Beeches

by Ryan Harper

Walking with purpose to the wood’s heart
I have come to consider the pure stand,
set off from the trailhead (so help me god,
I would have stayed).  Through congeries
of maple and poplar, through purple flowers
oned-and-manyed into catkins,
through burs and knots of what will be
raspberries, I have come to assume the American
beeches in spectral, undifferentiated mode.
I would have stayed, so help me god.

Under the sawtooth canopy, off white barks tight
on trunks—flexed thighs—the light limes;
aglow in this tract I turn round
a single hulk and find carved
the initials: RH

under the knife the mirror of nature

What uses a species whose skin stays smooth
into old age—cotton-batted,
vivisected to a specimen:
unlobed planetree, eyeless aspen,
swabbed, flush for the marking,
cheap for the practicing omniscient—
hewed arbography, spanning
aureoles—arcade, catalogue,
reliquary of the sacred roundels?

Start and stop your measure at the sought
design and any stand is pure: the first
and last maples, outside by definition; measures
focused until even the lone American
beech dwelling elsewhere in the poplars
grows to exclave; measures taken
until at last there is no elsewhere,
no exclave, only interruptions in the pure stand.
Again I turn round the notched hulk

What is this Titan that has possession of me

missionary of the alien work,
who after the uncircumferenced mandala
compresses properties beyond old native lines
dislocates the unmarkable growths.
What befalls the namer in the woods,

the marker of logs, who esthesic
and aching from a native fever
initializes a singular species: American
beech, surely related to European beech?
We can only say “the same” if we think difference
The day is getting on; the limelight bends—
yellow and green repartitioned in the deepening
shade.  O Abendland, arcade
of the burnished hour, reclassify what you will:
considering the stand I take

leave among the maples and poplars,
burs and knots, a  little embrowned;
I did not start here, by god—
I will not stop, without intent.

No comments:

Post a Comment