Muir Woods

By Erik Bendix

To them we are gibbering monkeys,

pop-flashing our little electric boxes and

wheeling our invalids around their feet

like tiny momentary tickles at their toes.

Even rubbing off  itching scales by dinosaurs

against deep soft folds of the redwood’s bark

was at best like being brushed by moth wings,

and the long drifting filaments of spider thread

that carry the breezes from tree to tree

are as good as only dreamt of by trunks

that clasp giant knuckles underground,

joining roots in common prayer for water

and for fallen flesh from softwood ancestors

who might have seen the very dawn of trees.

Some redwoods lean from anchors of taut

wavy wood grain, shimmering into the earth

like fallen hair. Some are sheathed in coats

of tufted ribs that could have served whales

as false baleen to spit bathtubs of ocean water

through to glean a meal off flailing schools of krill.

The creek that washes feet for these behemoths

will find its way to waves the whales know well.

The breeze that tumbles in their soft upper hair

will chill from fog banks blowing off the sea.

The deep quiet that cloaks this grove will

embrace itself again at the close of day

and sink into dark sheltered eons of

heartwood rings where the trees

harbor counsel about how

their world can keep

its peace.

 

 

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My work has been published in Bert Hellinger’s Rachel Weeping for Her Children (Carl Auer Systeme Verlag, Heidelberg, Germany 2003). I have also translated all of Rainer Maria Rilke’s Duino Elegies and Sonnets to Orpheus, the latter into full sonnet form in English. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, I attended a progressive school high in the Swiss Alps and then went on to earn an M.A. in philosophy, politics, and economics from Oxford University and in philosophy from Princeton University. I worked as an editor and in alternative education before settling in North Carolina with my family. There the lilt of local speech and storytelling lured me to seek my own poetic voice, and the lush natural surroundings nourished my impulse to let that voice grow. I am in private practice as an experienced teacher of the Alexander Technique and as a Body-Mind Centering practitioner. Both disciplines require a daily practice of being alive to the life of the body, and that aliveness seeks expression in my poetry. I have studied with Richard Tillinghast and Robert Bly and have often attended both the old Asheville Poetry Festival and the current Asheville Wordfest. My work is published or forthcoming in Monarch Review, Word Riot, and Forge.


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