Around the redwood, a fairy ring emerges – children of the parent tree, now scorched to two-hundred feet and still showing sprouts. Its growth rings will show damaged days. Like the whorls of my aging fingerprints.
I wrote elsewhere about the similarity of fingerprints and tree rings. They are not really as similar as they might appear. Fingerprints stay very much the same, while trees create a new ring each year and they vary quite a bit, showing fire, drought, competition for sunlight or nutrients, and damage by natural or human causes. But still, looking at them side by side they do seem to have some connection.
I do like the word “whorls” which means a pattern of spirals or concentric circles and is used in describing and identifying fingerprints – and seems like a good word to describe tree rings too.
I walk the nearby woods even though
clear pebbles of the rain are waterfalling
off the rock ledges in this theater
of air and trees – and the wind
opens leaves so that I have wings.
After reading from a book of Mary Oliver’s marvelous poems that are so steeped in nature and walks in the woods and fields, I went for a walk in my little natural corner of the world. It was raining but I didn’t mind. The tree canopy acted like a decent umbrella. When I returned home, I wrote this poem which I know has some words or phrases that are from Oliver’s poems that were still in my mind.
The cloudy afternoon through the red maple – painted leaves, inked branches, white paper sky. This could be a haiku about spring here seven thousand miles away from Osaka where every line counts as seven beats.
My poem’s title alludes to both John Steinbeck’s novel East of Eden and his inspiration in the Bible’s book of Genesis (Chapter 4, verse 16) with the story of Cain and Abel: “And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the Land of Nod, on the east of Eden”