I travelled much in my youth,
and continue to today.
In Cambridge, Massachusetts (near Harvard Square)
between the papers and discussions,
I walked outside
seeking asylum from the reeking of my mind
(my brain so numb I had to consult my notes
to remember my own words!)
The first time out all day.
A one-block walk was all I had time for. But grace
has a way of descending in strange times.
I met a golden maple,
glowing with evening light leaves
and I stopped, entranced. For years I stood,
looking up, feeling her skin, awed.
Looking at the dancing lights, looking at the bark patterns,
the movement, the subtle colors.
falling into the beloved through the eyes.
It would take me the whole day
to draw the intricacies of this thumbnail-sized piece of bark
in as much detail as I could,
and even then that would not begin
to scratch the surface of what was there.
How long would it take to illustrate the entire trunk?
let alone the branches, the roots, the changing leaves,
the entire living body of this tree?
And then there are the changes!
Every day brings new differences —
“Oh no, I have to do the painting over again,
that leaf has been nibbled; another is yellow today!
And the third from the left is gone!”
Several lifetimes would be needed
just to observe this one tree,
and even then skimming, a thin summary
of its possibilities.
Amongst travelling people, strange shifts can occur in fall.
I have left lovers because I felt bored with them,
thinking I knew all there was to know
I feel ready to settle and be contented
just really knowing one tree, and
its birds who visit,
its leaf changes,
its singular song in the wind.
Falling into one millimeter of bark
at a time —
This for the first time is satisfying;
Maybe I am approaching middle age:
Small things hold tremendous import
and easy ability to renew my soul.
– Tina Fields