You can put your hand on a familiar
tree and say, “hello, tree,” and claim
your tear as the sap of you, desperate
to be identified as tree-like, seasoned,
with little thought of not lasting
through the year, the decade, the decades.
We are not fossils—we are not still
enough to become this land’s keepsakes.
We beetle-scuttle. We slug. We, like
I once stood in what I had thought
a canary-yellow cardigan among aspens
outside a hot spring. It was aspen-yellow
all along. I guess, I, then, am a little
like the fourteeners, rebuffing the fog,
elevating seeing. And though experience
can tutor accuracy, it can also hoodwink.
Do you remember when we mistook
the freezing rain sliding down the side
of the tent to be a human who means
harm, circling us, a knife tip surely held
to the tent’s skin with just enough pressure
for us to hear it being pulled along, not yet
piercing anything, though prepared to?
I’d rather imagine myself a tree than dead.
Even if I know trees, too, are vulnerable.
We invest so much in some nouns.
We sometimes find ourselves surprised
how little of the world is reflected in language.
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