It’s been a noisy week. Hasn’t everyone experienced some kind of sound and fury? It’s been inescapable one way or the other. I had a poem written and ready to go last evening, but I decided to honour the original rhythm of writing the poem a day over 365 consecutive days. I set the alarm to make sure I would rise early. I didn’t need its pinging in the end, for my sleep cycle this week has been as erratic as those geological glacial remains that rocked and rolled over the landscape that I call home. I was up early and saw the dawn.
So, in the spirit of Samuel Becket’s saying that poems are prayers, I offer this little poem from my journal penned on rising today. It was how I declared the day ‘sabbath’, a day of rest.
Let there be one morning without rush, that the dawn is bejewelled in its hush. Let the sun rise golden and bleeding on Playbank's horizon, day seeding as rain drips from the eaves land all lush.
Let there be one morning without rush. Let there be one morning celebrating this hush.
I was out with a friend new to the neighbourhood on summer solstice, pointing out various species of plant and tree. She was particularly interested in identifying beech trees. After she dropped me off I pulled a reference book off the shelf, The Celtic Wisdom of Trees by Jane Gifford. It ‘s an interesting compendium of tree folklore. You would have thought, being a words person and nature lover, I would have earlier discovered that the beech tree is considered the tree of the written word. Early inhabitants of this island used a cuniform alphabet based on trees, known as crann ogham (say it crawn oh-am). The bark was the biodegradable tablet first used. Gifford points put that the Anglo-Saxon for beech is boc and is etymologically related to the German for book. At any rate, I now understand why a beech tree in the Cavan Burren woods is my very favourite tree in the world. Bookworm that I have always been, the beech would naturally have a gravitational pull for me. I love it’s portal into the underworld/undergrowth, and it’s being slightly askew.
One of the customs Gifford mentions is writing a wish on a beech leaf. Which became the jumping off point for poetry practice this morning. And then my plans for the day include disappearing into a novel. Which is how one should spend the day of rest to my way of thinking.
The Beseeching Tree
Write your wish on a leaf with a Sharpie, it round flatness unfurled, the very first page on earth for the written word. It lifts and twirls on air, flying from its woodland lair. Snatch them! Collect those leaves before they disintegrate. Bind them in bark with a spell. Seal their fate. Let the words be as straight as beech's strong back, their roots as deep and wide as the mushrooms field blooming beneath her feet. Words grow ground up. Beech is the first paper and page. Her twig finger is the first pen tracing shapes from ether to earth them. Her bark is the first book. Broadcast the written word north, south, east, west as profligate and plentiful as beech's mast. Copyright 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.
Once upon a time I was very effective at multi-tasking. We women joke about how it is our default setting. But as I age, I just find I have less talent for it. Today is a case in point. I overslept, which meant I missed my dawn writing practice. Which in turn made me feel out of joint. Also under-cafeinated. I needed to make a 9 am appointment and then a 10:30 appointment and then a 12:30 pick up. Also, make it to the post office before 1pm, when it closes for lunch. I skidded in at 12:54 and had it all wrapped up by 1pm.
By which time I felt ready for a lie down! Living in the country we tend to cluster our daily ‘missions’ to make sure that we minimise our auto emissions. Also, to keep the auto fuel bill reasonable. Where we live it is eight miles to the doctor’s surgery, and twenty miles to anywhere for a ‘big shop’ – clothing stores, shoe shops, the wool shop, plant pots and anything that is not obtainable is our, admittedly very good, local Spar shop in the village. So this multi-tasking on daily missions sometimes feels like the logistics for military maneuvers. I used to be able to do it without thinking twice. Now I think twice before launching myself into any day.
It’s tiring. And I have been feeling my age lately. It has been pointed out to me (by someone who is only three days younger than me) that this is now the wintertime of our lives. Which is a thought to conjure and ponder.
Today’s poetry daily includes a featured picture of my very favourite tree in all the world. Because sometimes your favourite tree needs to be celebrated.
In the Winter of a Lifetime
I want a den down a hole like the one that is the portal at the base of the beech tree.
I'll use sphagnum for a cushion that is plumped up ten inches thick. a bolster made of lichen.
I'll live like any cunning woman. I'll spin thread from scraps in the hedge. Knit a shawl of angel's hair.
I'll commune with the dark night- the owl, cat and hare. I will wane like Mother Moon. Until comes
the day of no rising dawn. The owl will announce my demise. The beech tree will close its door.