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Spirits In The Wood

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This poem was a "featured poem" on the Poetrysoup web site and a multiple contest award winner on Allpoetry web site.

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

Copyright © | Year Posted 2019




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Date: 9/3/2019 6:52:00 PM
Yes can very much relate with all nature and every living cell has energy that gives and feels the universe
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Greg Gaul
Date: 9/4/2019 2:10:00 PM
Yes, that is the basic Shinto belief. Every entity, thing in the universe has spirit in it. Thank you so kindly for reading and commenting so graciously.
Date: 8/15/2019 11:00:00 PM
It is a theory these days, (with much support), that trees, and quite possibly plants, have a very basic sort of nervous system, and obviously react to stress and "feel" pain. There are those who think they don't move on their own, but any time-lapse video will prove otherwise. This is wonderful, and weaves a story with so many great elements. (i have a couple that take on similar subject matter). I enjoyed this thoroughly, and I'm adding to favorites. Blessings! :o)
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Greg Gaul
Date: 8/16/2019 12:48:00 PM
I hope you won't mind passing on to me the title of the best tree poem in your portfolio. I'd love to read it. Certainly, you are one of the top half dozen poets on this site and I greatly respect your talents. Thank you so much for commenting. This poem (Spirits In The Wood) was "featured" on this site this week but it has been N/A ed in several contests. A bit of a quandary. Content, especially advocacy, does not weigh heavier than technique for most on this site. I too have a poem on the subject of trees that you might appreciate, titled Talking Tree Truth. You have made several kindhearted poetic critiques to me before and they've been helpful and encouraging. This whole subject area of trees and wood is rich with history, science and mysticism. The stuff that great verse comes from. I look forward to your next adventure in poetry, your command of technique is truly inspiring.
Date: 8/1/2019 5:35:00 PM
Hello Greg Gaul, I have enjoyed this poem. It is an enchanting tale. have a nice evening my friend.
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Darlene De Beaulieu
Date: 8/2/2019 12:11:00 PM
Hello Greg Gaul, yes poetry is my passion. I enjoy creating my poems and reading others poetry.I am so pleasedto hear that my words are encouraging for you. I do enjoy your poetry. Bye for now Darlene.
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Greg Gaul
Date: 8/1/2019 6:24:00 PM
Darlene, thank you so much for commenting on my poem. Your insight means a lot. I know you have a deep appreciation for poetry, so your kind words are encouraging.