Introducing a Live Oak (Treebeard)

Live Oak Oct 12

We planted a tree yesterday — a live oak from Friends of Live Oaks in Virginia Beach. From the time we left to pick up our tree until the time we stood back and admired our work, the entire process took less than three hours.

Live Oak Oct 12

The result of our three hour investment will (hopefully) outlive us. It’s a profoundly satisfying concept, that something so simple can be so permanent.

Live Oak Oct 12

The website says these trees may live 1,400 years, a span impossible to feel. I’ve lived forty-four years. My father lived fifty-two years. My mother, seventy-six. My grandmother, one hundred years.

Beyond one hundred years, I’m grasping mist. A few family photos from the late 1800s. A Civil War diary. A name that may or may not be an ancestor. Rumors and speculation.

Live Oak Oct 12

It makes me wish paper could be shaved, sheet by sheet, from a tree’s cross-section. Pages would preserve rings far more interesting than the words I write. Seasons of flood and drought, ages of ice, flashes of fire.

Today our little live oak has two rings, three at most. Each says nursery in healthy excess. Next year a smaller ring will say transplanted. After that? Mist again…

Live Oak Oct 12

I haven’t named any of the yard’s trees, until now. A few days ago I started calling the live oak Treebeard, and the name stuck.

Before I Knew

Before I Knew

Before I knew pleasures
Should be guilty
I climbed trees

Forfeiting homework and chores
In search of the beginning
Of wind
In those days shadows danced
Proved the sun moved around the Earth
(Did Ptolemy climb trees?)

Before I knew history
Was more ancient than myself
I hunted arrowheads

Scouring new plowed furrows
I exhumed fallen masterpieces
Of war
In those days summer ruled
Proved we would live forever
(Was Einstein once a child?)

Before I knew memory
Shaped the future
I dreamed easily

Dozing among the branches
Bare feet thickly shod
With dirt
In those days apples beckoned
Proved the universe was infinite
(Did Newton also dream?)

Published in The Powhatan Review, Vol. V, Number 1, Summer 2005