catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 3, Num 21 :: 2004.12.17 — 2004.12.30


Lightning strikes up

The conservationist promised me, as a child in Toronto?s Kortright conservation center, ?Even in a city, there is nowhere you can go without seeing a tree.? That promise didn?t hold water.

Crime spreads like moss over cities without trees, because trees are monuments to remind us that there is a Creator. Maybe trees are angels, come down to earth to watch over us, to spread their arms out in wonder, shielding us from the sky gods? fury?or maybe that was why they were worshipped. The animists were right: each living thing has a spirit. Trees, after all breathe?and breath, in the language of the Bible, is

spirit?their transpiration taking in our carbon dioxide and transmuting it into oxygen for us to live by. We are locked in a mouth-to-mouth embrace of mutual resuscitation. Theirs is a French tongue-trick of grace; they kiss the sky clean, sublimating all our dirty words.


Anna met me on the path. The pale streaks were natural, she?d told me, in her silky auburn hair. They looked like veins of gold in Colorado sand. Variety! she exclaimed, That?s what makes trees so crackerjack. They?re all individuals. The nearer you stand to them, the more medleys of structure you can see?right down to the molecular level.

In each tree?s green scarf of leaves is the plush ambrosia of chlorophyll, that sweet transformer that absorbs the salvific brightness of heaven?everything they are is an incarnation of solar phosphorescence. I recall a botanist, incensed at excitement over plants responding to Mozart; ?Who cares about Mozart? They can eat light! Isn?t that enough?? The light has many sons. A crackle of birds flicks off a branch towards another tree, like digital sparks, weaving meaning into the biosphere?s loom.

Chloroplasts peeling back in fall, gives way to the light within. A fasting from the sun, a chance to reveal the truly vibrant colors of leaves, each denying themselves, to reflect golden light back to the world, filling it up with transcendent gold?ephemerally worth more than Fort Knox. As autumn comes, the trees become firecrackers, paused in mid-conflagration. Leaves flush around a barren skeleton of hope?and then winter slinks in, salting the landscape with snow, trees black as death?still, yet climbing up, branches playing maitre-de to frost and sleeping bats of ice which cling upwards toward the other sun at the center of the world. Here we see what trees really are, thunderbolts?mid-flash. Lightning strikes up. Frozen. Electric communication between earth and sky, our e-mail stations to the cosmos.

And then, in this frigid night of the world, chlorophyll has not extinguished its affirming green light. The evergreen tree, pillar of vigilance, unsleepingly green. Their rustle lets free to bake the fallen snow and cloudless heavens with an aroma of scented needles, warm, stirring tired imaginations to dream up yuletide gods and fresh truths. A little boy runs among the branches, giggling ahead of his father. His boots crunch softly in the snow drooling enthusiasm?because his heart borders the troposphere, sings above the clouds, and has no need of gods. Soon his father arrives, lugging the chainsaw. A sacrifice to the grey days?a dragging in and bedecking?symbolically; the domestication of woman, the deflowering of mother earth.

Indoors, seeming forever, until she is old and brown, her beauty shed in piles on living room floors?her only glory a household one, brought not from the transcendence of enriching the air, or channeling chakras to the stars, but only in being a rack for baubles, pretties and plastic glow-bobs.

It is stripped naked of telos, absorbed into the paganochristian religion of manmade control and decoration. There is no wind inside, no ruffle of hope, no little underscore of vibrancy?though the evergreen?s dancing in the forest was only measured in a few inches of sway, even that we must rob of it ? bringing the universe once more under the authority of man. Somewhere, a bird prophet is screaming?let the woman dress herself! Let her choose for herself her own clothes! Let her display her nakedness at the time that is right for her!

But the bird is alone, and since there are no homo sapiens in the forest, it does not make a sound.


It is the starkness of barren winter though, that reveals what trees really are?a mirror of human energy, reaching out of unseen depths of our shared subconscious, roots twining and intertwining, down into the moist richness of the fertile unseen. Likewise, branches seething and blossoming out towards the up and the grand, towards all that is vast, and open and waiting to be filled. A clear-cut forest is a broken heart, a spirit, its arms and legs cut off. And the world breathes less.

your comments

comments powered by Disqus