The Trees

Dedicated to the trees of Callum Brae Nature Reserve, Canberra, Australia which are under threat from a proposed crematorium complex

For me

It’s the trees

The gum trees

They welcomed me

To this land

When no one else did

Where are you from?

What’s that accent?

Go back to where you came from

But where is that
where did I come from

So many places and spaces

And peoples

And struggles

And protests

And learning

And sharing

Go back to where you came from

Embrace them all

And I do

When I stop

And stare at a gum tree

I know you

You know me

I embrace you

I look up to you

I admire you

Your colours your shapes

Each tree unique

Yet grounded in the same soil

Gum trees are elsewhere

Where I’ve lived

California

Seen as a threat

Live through the dry

Can catch fire

Gum trees in California

all look the same

Is it because they were torn

Out of their original home

in Kenya

Gum trees all look the same

But in Australia

Each one different

Orange

Pink

White

Grey

Brown

Black

Shaggy bark

Smooth bark

Scribbly bark

When in doubt

Where you are

Do you belong

Look at a gum tree

Admire their shape

Their tenacity

Their survival through fire

Walk up to the tree

Look up to the tree

Embrace the tree

Then you will know that

You are alive

You belong

You are the tree

One day I will be a tree

Or perhaps I always was

I try to write

To paint

To sketch

A gum tree

Or a forest

I have not yet captured

Their essence

On paper

Sydney Nolan

Captured the essence

Of gum tree forests

Yet he had to have

Ned Kelly

Hiding within

Behind the trees

What is the relationship

Of Ned Kelly to gum trees?

What about the wombat hole

And the dead soldier who fell in

What does this say about the settlers

The colonialists relationship to the land?

Was it Ned Kelly who opposed them?

Was it the land itself

that could not be

Completely conquered?

I see the gum trees daily

I think of them daily

I embrace them daily

This is what keeps me going

When denied by society

The trees are still there

Too Many Layers

Too many poems

Cannot choose

Too many photos

Overwhelmed

Beauty

Camping

Coast

Australia

Too many layers

To my life

Is that what

getting old

means

So many layers

Lost the thread

How to find my way

Back

Remember

Or don’t

If it’s past

Give it up

Go ahead

Yet I hesitate

People left behind

Names on a list

Names on my phone

Some forgotten

Some ignored

For years

For months

Can I reconnect

Can I remember

Should I remember

Too many layers

So many countries

Here I am

Rocky shore

A rocky shore

A place to share

With whales, wallabies, lizards

Not mine alone

Put aside thoughts of control

No limits of rocky shore

Lines of whales

Twisted gum trees

Yellow flower vines

No limits to sharing

Freedom of small children

Gleeful exchange with wallabies

Walking by twos low tide

Colourful hats on beach

Joyful seen from above

Trees

Trees surpass people

Beautiful reliable diverse

Providing food and living space

To birds and animals

Providing shade and inspiration

To humans

Trees give long lasting comfort and acceptance

The colours, the shapes, the textures

Always inspiring

More beautiful

Than anything made by humans

More beautiful than any sculpture

Any building, any vehicle

Especially eucalypts

Their variety their shapes

their colours, their textures

overwhelming

surprising

delights

trees

Homage to Callum Brae Nature Reserve, Canberra, Australia

Objects Around

Objects around

are not mundane

Each one is unique

Handmade by someone

I purchased them

Their provenance forgotten

Their creator unknown

Undocumented

The objects are here

Surround me

Everyday

Do I see them?

Do I overlook them?

The strange polka-dotted beast

from South Africa

A gift from Gabriel

The soft sculpture of a woman

Diddy-wa-diddy

A craft shop visit with Pilar

in the Midwest USA

Once my best friend and confidante

who years later rejected our friendship

The horse and carriage

from recycled bits of metal

Made in Pakistan

The Kansas City ceramic cow

The Kibera 8 collage, a slum in Nairobi

The beachside print by Sheila

inspired by Tucacas

Emerald Suites Venezuela

The camel train oil painting

from a door-to-door salesman artist

in Islamabad Pakistan

The Faberge glass cat

from my aunt in Florida

How did it get to me?

Muddled past

All are here now

Objects around me

Re-reading the Heart’s Garden

Rereading The Heart’s Garden

The Garden’s Heart

By Kenneth Rexroth

has sustained me

through decades

His words continue

Almost unknown

Almost forgotten

But they are there

And re reading

Tears of recognition

of thanks and also of sorrow

What else have I forgotten

What else have I left behind

What else is there

To think

To do

To write

To paint

To believe

To remember

What happens to the environment

the earth

the forest

the birds

the plants

the animals

encased in layers of concrete

glass and steel

overwhelming the natural

yet doomed to failure

to falling

Thank you Kenneth Rexroth

What Astonishes?

Underwater

There is so much

we do not see

We watch the waves

Maybe the whales breaching

But what I want to see

is there

underneath

demanding I change

my frame of reference

from warmth to chill

from light to muted

Adjust your body

Adjust your eyes

Head down

Keep looking

immersed

in water environment

as you never are

in air

walking standing breathing

seeing objects colours

floating in the ocean

Adjust

Accept

Lose track

So that

Astonished

When you raise your head

out of the water

the world is still there

And you will return

A strange equation

Beach Mimosa Rocks National Park, Australia

Camping plus a slight cold = 4 great books!

While camping, and relaxing in a hammock (a habit acquired in Venezuela) at Mimosa Rocks National Park, I finished two outstanding books by Australian authors:

The Shepherd’s Hut by Tim Winton

and   Stone Sky Gold Mountain by Mirandi Riwoe 

When I first began reading The Shepherd’s Hut, I thought, no, too fast, too much slang… I can’t stay with this. But I kept going and going and going until it was over. Some references to plants, land and Aussie slang that I didn’t know, but no matter… a terrific read.

Easier entry to Stone Sky, Gold Mountain, a novel about the incredible suffering of Chinese migrants in the gold fields of North Queensland, Australia in 1877.

Returned from Mimosa Rocks (on the south east coast of Australia) to Canberra, I had several days of not feeling too great – runny nose and congestion. So more reading!

I finished Ta-Nehisi Coates novel, The Water Dancer. Densely written, submerging the diligent reader into the underground war on slavery in the United States.   (Look up the Underground Railroad on Wikipedia for information about the underground). 

Fourth book: Louise Erdrich, The Night Watchman, a novel based on the life of her grandfather, Patrick Gourneau, who successfully fought to stop the termination of the Turtle Mountain Chippewa tribe by the United States Senate in the 1950s. Gloriously written, with poetic language, memorable characters embedded throughout.

I tend to immerse myself in books, read them very quickly and then regret when they’re finished, as if I’ve lost a good friend.

All of the above HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Joyous reading!

Clouds and Trees

Looking out the window

through the glass sliding door

Clouds moving across the sky

Grey underbellies

White above

Illuminated by the sun

Blue patches in between

Always moving

Changing shapes

Cloud diversity

 

Tree diversity

Branches straight

Branches convoluted

Branches intertwined

Branches bare

Branches with leaves

Moving with the wind

Trunks stationery

Roots underneath

Out of sight

Pushing earth

Enveloping rocks

Clinging to the side

of eroded stream beds

 

Invisible movement

of trees

Visible movement

of clouds

 

Look up again

 

Sky more blue

Clouds

motionless

Suspended

Swallowed up

One wisp drifts away

Dissolving in the blue

Shapes slowly shifting

Grey and white masses

Silhouette flying across

small black bird

 

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