The Linden — A Poem

 

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“Linden Tree” — C.Birde, 8/16

Stay…

Linger beneath the linden —

that tree of bees

and heart-shaped leaves.

We’ll spread a blanket

in restless shade

over the drowsing heads

of sweet clover,

and name the birds’

erratic patterns

scrawled across the sky.

Together, we’ll drift

as Summer slips

us by.

 

— C.Birde, 8/16

 

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“Linden & Light” — C.Birde, 8/16

 

 

Outsized Rabbit — A Dream

Enormous. Colossal. Prodigious. Not words typically used to describe a rabbit. And yet, there it is — a rabbit of such mammoth proportions, it dwarfs the person holding it. A great armload drooping soft-furred folds of flesh past those hands clasped beneath its ribs. It stares benignly, blinks dark, liquid eyes, seemingly content to be held dangling great long legs. Astonishing. Bewildering. Extraordinary. Or, perhaps not — it is, after all, the Mustafa Angora Legedermain rabbit…

 

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“Outsized Rabbit” — C.Birde, 8/16

Urchins — A Dream

A darkened stateroom. At one end, a thin seam of light defines a door; directly opposite, a porthole set high in the wall contains only the night sky. The room’s rectangular space is as dark as it is narrow. Pressed hard against one long wall are three single beds, their white-painted, tubular metal frames and tightly tucked white linens, impart a sanitized, clinical aspect. There is no other furniture or decoration in the tidy room, and the beds do not appear to have been slept in. I sit in the dark at the foot of the bed beneath the porthole.

Muffled steps in the hall beyond the room. Sound upon the door – not quite a knock, but a scratching noise, low on the doorframe’s seam, more akin to fingernails, or claws. No time to wonder if the door is locked — a wedge of yellow light forms on the floor as the door slowly, noiselessly opens inward. Silhouetted in the door’s mouth crouch two children, a boy and a girl. She appears older than him, but they are both scrawny and unkempt – hair matted and tangled, clothing tattered.

I rise to approach as the urchins toss armfuls of random toys into the room. The objects bounce and scatter, and the boy and girl straighten, intent on entering under the pretense of play. Before they cross the threshold, I reach the door, grab the handle to narrow the angle of entry. I usher the two back into the dimly lit hall and, as they watch in silence, I bend to gather the toys up into green plastic grocery bags. The bags hiss and snick, swallowing each toy dropped within. Pulling the door shut behind me, I hand over the bags. The children are so small and gaunt and scraggly, it startles. The boy snatches the bags and scurries away down the hall, but the girl stands perfectly still, looking up at me with her hands clasped and resting on the front of her grubby dress. For a moment, her face is almost serene, devoid of emotion. Then, the pupils and irises vanish from her huge eyes, overwritten by a rapid series of forms and symbols — mathematical, scientific, utterly alien. The threat is apparent. Back pressed to the door, I fumble with the handle to return to the safety of my room.

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“Urchin” — C.Birde, 8/16

 

Break and Repeat — A Dream

One hand holds a pencil — a slender, hexagonal length, sheathed in bright yellow paint; the other grips a sharpener — small, silver rectangle, the blade within angled inward over its hollow belly. Insert pencil into sharpener. Apply gentle pressure. Crank the wrist and twist repeatedly. Curls of yellow-edged wood peel away from the blade. Dust of graphite falls. Withdraw pencil. Touch sharpened tip. Though it pricks the index finger — indeed, leaves a gray dot smudged upon the whorled fingerprint — the point itself wiggles, falls away. Broken. Reinsert pencil. Twist and turn. Watch carefully as the graphite core is slowly exposed from beneath splintered cowl of wood. Observe as the tip breaks while sharpening. Withdraw pencil. Tap out sharpener to remove wood, and dust, and graphite tip lodged within the channel beneath that bright, slender blade. Reinsert pencil. Twist and turn. Extract pencil from sharpener. Touch tip. Sigh as point falls away. Repeat. Over. And over. And over…

 

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“Break & Repeat” — C.Birde, 8/16

White Oak, A Profile — Images

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“Addis White Oak” — C.Birde, 8/16

Allow me to introduce the Addis White Oak. This giantess, Quercus Alba, rears up from Greenwood Cemetery higher than I can guess. She would easily offer generous shade to a four-story home; it’s common for white oaks to reach heights between 80 and 100 feet.

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“Addis White Oak, Left” — C.Birde, 8/16

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“Addis White Oak, Right” — C.Birde, 8/16

 

Her extended limbs stretch outward at great, wide angles in all directions, easily as far as she is tall, and her lower branches run almost parallel to the earth. She wears gently round-tipped leaves, most of which are about eight inches in length, longer than my hand.

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

“Addis White Oak, Bark Detail” — C.Bird, 8/16

Her bark is far from white, but rather varying shades of gray. It is so scaled and deeply grooved, I can slip my fingers into fissured clefts. In some areas, her bark rises several inches from her in trunk in long sheaths.

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

“Addis White Oak, Toes” — C.Birde, 8/16

Her roots are well anchored in the earth; her toes and ankles are felted with moss and lichen. She is just one of several enormous trees in this quiet little cemetery, and she is not the largest.  I call her the Addis Oak for the family buried at her feet. Standing beneath her, I hear the creak and rustle of Time passing.

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“Addis White Oak, Illuminated” — C.Birde, 8/16


 In an effort to estimate this tree’s age, I followed a simple formula — measure the trunk’s width at about four-and-a-half feet from the ground (137 inches); divide this number by pi  (137 inches ÷ 3.141 = 43.61); multiply this number by the tree’s growth rate (white oak growth rate is 5, therefore 43.61 x 5 = 218.08), which makes this tree, by rough estimate, over two hundred years old. White oaks can reach ages between 200 and 300 years. Truly impressive. This is by no means the oldest white oak — the Wye Oak in Maryland was estimated to be over 450 years old before it fell in a thunderstorm in 2002. Another venerable white oak, the Great White Oak in Basking Ridge, New Jersey — ailing, though still standing — is thought to be over 600 years.

 

Yesterday’s Light — A Poem

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“All the Light of Yesterday” — C.Birde, 8/16

 

Gather all the light of yesterday —

sun and moon, star and fire,

in shafts and beams and sparks.

Strain thrice —

of cloud and shadow,

and random occlusion

(reserve for another use).

Pour into large, wide-mouthed jar

with tight-fitting lid

and set to distill

in a south-facing window

for three weeks.

Taste, to assure desired strength.

Decant into phials and bottles.

Inhale to counteract the blues.

Dab on pulse points to restore the heart.

Apply to the soles of feet to lighten the step.

Stroke over eyelids to find silver linings.

Touch to the tongue’s tip to sweeten words.

Glide over lips to revive a smile.

Pour over ice in Summer and serve

with mint and lemon slices.

In Winter, heat with cinnamon

and cloves and allspice

and ladle into mugs.

Share with friends, family,

and strangers.

Use generously.

 

— C.Birde, 8/16