The Secret Tree

I am dry. A circle of bark
peels stiffly from my crumbling limbs.
The itch of mold and termites
gives me no rest from entropy.
Leaves have not come this year.
It is rough everywhere:
parched earth has matted straw for hair
and desperate creatures huddle, homeless.
What the hot wind implies, I follow:
push out my roots to where the rains have gone,
deep, deeper, search for new rhythms
in crack and crevice, beyond the worm-world.

Dead to the wind above, bare-boned and tall,
I weave no banner poems in air, no seeds
fly out that other green may imitate:
making another like me is not the answer.
Mine is a secret growth, a sunless tree,
a new thing never seen before.
I plummet toward earth’s mantle,
sprout from the roofs of caves,
make roost for the lightless chatterers,
the bats, my only friends in this sightless
and nearly soundless chasm.
Through the bottom and beyond, I grow.
Above, my seeming corpse, that monument,
betrays no life to deadly air. The dead things
around me are truly dead. I sway
in secret winds of magma, magnetic,
I drink salt waters from the hearts of geodes.
I bloom in the dark heart of everything,
that place, not Hades, but equally dreaded,
to which everything wants to, but cannot
fall. I have more branches now
than I ever could have imagined.

Squid sing to me in the ocean trenches,
plates moan tectonic as I wrap new rings
of iron and nickel around myself.
If leaf and blossom come to me now,
who shall see them? No one.
If seeds, or something like them,
issue from my branch-ends, where
will they go? Volcano-vented upward?
Or hoarded here in darkness?
The tree above seems only a dream now,
but so long as no one cuts it
and no storm dares to topple it,
I am only its bad dream. Pray
I do not awaken.


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