I am Born (California Oak)

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Oak Trees in California (photo: Suhee Kang | cc by-sa)
Oak Trees in California (photo: Suhee Kang | cc by-sa)
Oak Trees in California (photo: Suhee Kang | CC BY-SA)

I am born
a spirit, a sprout, a forgotten acorn
buried by a squirrel with an absent mind
or one hit on a nearby road
soccer mom, CEO in a hurry
Humvee, GMC, Nissan Pathfinder Armada
Whoever said they did nothing for the environment?

However it came about, I grow

In my youth, I savor the Fall and Winter rains
moisture just beneath the surface
a hot California sun is both my god and devil

I grow
I exhale
squirrels, birds, and humans inhale

As the Sun rises high, I give shade
A boy and his dog
A shepheard and his sheep
Lone on a crispy dry hill, a cow cools off
even the famous ‘Real California Cheese’
can thank me for something

I hold your earth together
a landslide’s biggest opponent
the soil’s great partner above ground and below

During the long dry Summers, my roots reach far
Twisting, thrusting, pulsing through the depths of the soil underneath
down, down, down
I reach the poisons which your American industry has long forgotten
and which China’s will soon forget next

I suck poison into my body
and I still provide
my twisted yet supremely organized maze of limbs begin to dry, soften

Grubs take residence
then red-headed wood-peckers to oust them
in the holes which are left, again come the squirrels
finding perfectly-sized holes for their Fall horde

Thank you grub
thank you woodpecker
thank you squirrel
My fruit is now buried in my own arms

A Winter storm
pushes down the hill a seemingly endless gust from a deep grey Santa Cruz seaside
My arms, soft and wet, full of holes, full of nuts
a crack, a rip, splinters, and a great crash back into the earth at my feet

Now armless, the squirrels are confused:
where did I put that nut?

And again, I am born

Babies Springing
from a mother’s nurturing carcass

photo: Suhee Kang
words: Patrick M. Lydon

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