Author's Note: The light hasn’t faded from the redwood forests, but with climate change they may be doomed. And they are my home. Kew Gardens in London asked me to write a poem for their redwood grove, which they posted on a billboard, dwarfed by the actual trees.
because a redwood grove
because naturally upon entering you lower your voice because through branches up high fluffs of fog drift in shafts of sunlight because you’ve met this feeling in cathedral, mosque, temple because a redwood seems always to know what it’s doing because your body feels small because your spirit grows large because a redwood with its power will never preach makes no demands sips from the clouds swallows the sunlight shelters the chipmunk, the owl, you because a redwood takes the long view because the redwood withstands flame has kinship to stone, to river and earth to the patience of stars to the holy because you forgot the question but a redwood grove is the answer Kew Gardens, London
Fifty years ago chatting, brewing coffee in a Sears metal pot in that dumpy kitchen in St. Louis if you asked where we imagined our marriage would take us, a redwood forest would not figure into the answer. But here we stand. Fun is transient. Strength, uplift, roots, that’s joy. Half a century weathering changes passes in a blink. Ask any sequoia.
Originally published in Red Wolf Journal
Bury Me in a Redwood Forest
May the roots tickle my bones. May my blood rise as tinted sap. May the over-abundant hair of my body become filaments of shaggy bark. May my dreams flow to cones, become seed. May my words whistle with the wind spreading stories, tall tales. May the hawk build a nest at my crown, may fox pups play at my hollow. May I resist the rot, repel the insect, and when at last I fall may I be sectioned, milled, notched and nailed, may I become the soul of a house peopled with children, crafted with love.
Originally published in Red Eft Review
©2022 Joe Cottonwood
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