Old English treo, treow, from Proto-Germanic *treuwaz-, from PIE *deru-
Being ‘firm’ and ‘solid’. And ‘steadfast’. Being also
bigger than life. And ageless, like a god,
whose shoulders are exceedingly broad
and good for heaving. Or stands defiant on a mountain top,
upholding, some say the world, or
the heavens, lugged like luggage upon its back.
Moreover, good for ornamental purposes, as in a garden.
Or The Garden: good for knowledge
of all kinds, but specifically of good and evil.
Or tucked away in the middle silence of a wood, writing in
concentric circles of rings ringing rings around
the first day of its stillness—the perfect silent
center of its singularity, which in time
will encompass the forest, stretch forever beyond
the reach of the woodsman’s axe.
Spreading its tendrils. Its roots like
*deru-, the deepest root, which brings us
treu, ‘truth’. The Bodhi tree.
The Dryads. Or Daphne disappearing.
No one remembers.
The ancient, hardwood forests
harvested of their
old-growth gods. Or the signs
of their autumn. Yellow leaves,
ochre with golden edges for flames.
Or any signs at all. Or the scrawl
of words into sidewalks,
or onto stone tablets. Or carved by
naked druidesses into the trunks of trees.
We need the lumber. We’re told. We need
the room—this stand
of trees stands in the way.
Imagine the empty glade
uncluttered without its
tyrannical choking canopies.
And the allotted
tall fescue plots. We must
level and grade,
irrigate, seed and over-seed, pluck
the dandelions out,
mow and bag the clippings.
Seedlings upon seedlings of trees that mock
the mower, mock the lawn care expert—march ever onward
like the march of forager ants
carrying more seeds on their backs—seeking to put down
roots. Seeking a grain of
truth to swallow. Once the ancient Mayan cities were
swallowed up because someone stopped
mowing the lawn—stopped listening
to Kukulkan. Who was fond of saying:
Rev up those mowers, boys. Kick up the din. There’s always
another forest on the way. Saplings to be kept at bay.
Teeming, true as: *treuwaz-. Can’t see the forest for—the Silence.
James E. Allman, Jr.’s credentials—degrees in biology and business—qualify him for an altogether different trade. However, he easily tires of the dissected and austerely economized. He is a dabbler with an expensive photography-habit and a poetry-dependency. Nominated for three Pushcart Prizes, his work appears, or is forthcoming, in Black Warrior Review, The Literary Review, Nimrod, Phoebe, Prairie Schooner, Sugar House Review, and Third Coast, among others. He’s written reviews for Rattle as well as other journals, blogs and sundries and is the co-founder of an artist community called Continuum. Follow him on facebook and twitter or visit his blog to read more of his work: