Sunday, October 5, 2008


Painting by
Merissa Gilbert Garrison


The immense white birch tree
in the back woods is dying -
its broken limbs now pasted
to the sorrowful sky,
as woodpeckers tattoo
its papery white skin
with black funerary designs.
Clusters of insects and blotches of mold
congregate and multiply in its folds
of scalloped bark and toothless grin,
as gatherings of birds in silence, grieve -
on rotting branches like feathery leaves.


Aine said...

White birches are my favorite trees. You've captured the sorrow I feel when seeing one die.

It also reminds me of my daughter's (once) favorite book: A Log's Life. It helps me look past the sorrow to celebrate the cycle of life.

trooping with crows said...

A beautiful momento...
I can tell you have a true affection for nature by your words here. As something in the natural world dies and rots away, it's sad in a way that I almost can't explain. If you'll pardon my being morbid, a human being at rest underground has privacy in it's decomposition. A tree decays over such a long period. It's exposed for all to see day after day.
White Birch is also my favorite tree.

Hans Ford said...

being a person who loves nature it is so easy to get lost in your words and phrases.....PLEASE keep adding to your blog

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Aine - I love the way you have looked on the bright side of things here. We poets tend to be morose, more often than not. I plan on getting "A Log's Life". I checked it out on Amazon and love it! There is a special little guy I want to give it to!

Trooping with Crows - You are right. Dying nature, in many forms, is exposed for our intentional or unintentional gaze. Sometimes, it is very upsetting. I know it is the natural progression of things; but, in the case of animals especially, it is distressing.

And...yes, I do love the natural world. You do, too...I see.

Hans Ford - Thanks for the encouragement! I will keep posting - I hope you will keep stopping by. :D

Anonymous said...

Somehow trees seem to die long before their dead. The slow decline to bare branches is just the aftermath. All at once, they lose their spark. The moment they stop reaching and begin to fade.

Scott said...

Hey! You have a blog now. I'm glad you finally took a walk on the wild side.

Sarah Hina said...

Clusters of insects and blotches of mold congregate and multiply in its folds of scalloped bark and toothless grin,

Ah, I love that! You paint such a visual in those words. I agree with Aine--there is something calming about seeing this not merely as an ending, but a beginning, too.

I'm so happy to have discovered your work, K....count on me to be stopping by often. :)

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Jason, such a beautiful observation. I have to admit...I love dead standing trees almost as much as I love living ones. There is just something so wonderfully spooky and artsy about them! We had a dead tree in our back yard, once. My husband's uncle was visiting us in the summer and happened to look out at the lifeless form and said, "What? Do you people like dead trees, or something?" We both answered together, "Yes, we do."

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Hey, Scott! I always walk on the wild side - just not so publicly! ;P

I AM feeling a little exposed out here...but I think I will be okay. I am just learning the ropes, ya know? I keep looking at all of you "old pros" trying to pick up pointers from you. I appreciate your visit so much! Ya'll come back now.

Sarah Hina - I am delighted that you stopped by. Thanks for the kind words. I admire your work, as well. Your blog is really impressive! Please visit often. :)

lilu said...

What a beautiful poem. I love all trees but there is something special about a birch. There is somethig so heartbreaking about seeing one of the giants die.