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Standing all alone in the woods;
eyes shut, I feel the lilting light.
Sun dodges needles through the crown,
beams land on my skin softly so.
Brisk breezes quicken and rustle.
Bristlecone pines ever sway slowly,
while pockets of air blush my cheeks.
Staying stalwart in meditation,
cones crinkling as puffs roll them
gently across the forest floor.
Thoughts judder to the hovering pines -
somehow sound vibrations etch marks
captured in the sentient wood.
Stories of prophetic forests,
Stradivarius mesmerize all,
hulls moaning warn mariners,
haunted houses cynics believe:
wood mystically cradles spirit.
Under the old trees guileless gaze
do they sense me as I do them?
She stands before my eyes closed,
I fall into her dream again.
She's called the "Ancient Gardner":
rules - rocks, water, plants, animals
and humans - all the universe.
Her countenance is elegant:
purist white hair, slight frame, regal smock,
penetrating eyes that draw me
to her secret venerable world.
Stares inside in a knowing way.
The legend starts in 555 B.C.
Boy twins, Zan and Zing are infants
raised in a Shinto village.
As young men, both were vying for
Zee's affections as bride to be.
They went to a nearby forest.
In the pines, they battle over her,
their blows reverberate loudly
seen by all the forest network.
Zan fatally fells Zing with a thud,
lets out a woeful wail with tears,
slumps into a sobbing heap
regretting his killing attack.
He buries Zing at the bottom
of the first ever Yamaki pine.
Zing's soul transfuses into the soil,
into the famous kami sapling.
Zan schemes to create a solid lie
starting an imperial epoch.
He's not suspect, they believe him.
Vows to the gods this would be the
single lie of his long life.
He lives up to his honesty vow.
Zan's secret lies in the forest soil.
A fair and thoughtful ruler, Zan
often bathes in the forest,
meditates and mulls governance.
Zan marries Zee and loves her.
He is emperor for many years.
Aged, nearing death Zan reveals
his lie to his loyal wife Zee.
Zee asks their emperor son Zoe
to bury Zan beneath the Yamaki.
Zoe inherited the throne.
Zee never reveals the secret.
Both infuse the landmark tree
eternally part of earth's heartwood.
Zan and Zing are the hidden kami.
Zoe fights hard losing a great war.
He gets invaded and deposed.
The kami sounds vibrate in the wood.
Ancient Gardner keeps consciousness,
the oldest wood cradles wisdom.
Bonsai persist in kami legend.
Much later, Zoe's lineage re-emerges
as concubine Empress Wu Zetian.
But pernicious secrets persist.
So often the common outcome.
Real instinct outthinks imprudence.
A tale of unintended acts,
results of a legendary sin.
Kami revealed, spirits in the wood.
If you want to find the truth
about spirits in the wood;
look closely, embrace the timber,
dance inside the branches.
Burl wood beauty shows stress can vary:
see spirits in carvings, statuary.
Feel its personality, presence -
it's in its grain, resonance...
The sound, the tone that it will emit,
the echoes that come out of it.
A mystical, mythological, philosophical, botanical, historical and spiritual tale. A mix of fact and fiction offered as a possible concept of how thought and spirit is sustained in our world. Inspired by David George Haskell's Songs of Trees book (among others such as Robin Kimmerer, Susan Simard, Peter Wohlleben) and a combination of Shinto and Buddhist teachings. Free Verse
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