Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Some stories last many centuries,
others only a moment.
All alter over that lifetime like beach-glass,
grow distant and more beautiful with salt.
Yet even today, to look at a tree
and ask the story Who are you? is to be transformed.
There is a stage in us where each being, each thing, is a mirror.
Then the bees of self pour from the hive-door,
ravenous to enter the sweetness of flowering nettles and thistle.
Next comes the ringing a stone or violin or empty bucket
gives off --
the immeasurable's continuous singing,
before it goes back into story and feeling.
In Borneo, there are palm trees that walk on their high roots.
Slowly, with effort, they lift one leg then another.
I would like to join that stilted transmigration,
to feel my own skin vertical as theirs:
an ant-road, a highway for beetles.
I would like not minding, whatever travels my heart.
To follow it all the way into leaf-form, bark-furl, root-touch,
and then keep walking, unimaginably further.
The ephemeral "land art" here is by the British sculptor, photographer, and installation artist Andy Goldsworthy, whose influential work has been documented in Wood, Stone, Time, Arch, Passage, Hand to Earth, and other gorgeous art books. Goldsworthy was born in Cheshire, grew up in Leeds, studied fine art in Lancashire, and now lives and works in Scotland. You'll find his reflections on his work in the hidden picture captions. (Run your cursor over the photographs to see them.)
The poem above comes from Given Sugar, Given Salt by Jane Hirshfield (Harper Perrenial), and appeared online in Poetry Chaikhana; all right reserved by the author.