The Keffer Oak

I think the letter L in the word world is one of its most essential uses in the history of literature. It distinguishes two things most responsible for the heady, desperate plight of the human. Our kind’s fundamental confusion. Between an indisputable reality and the far more complicated one of our own inventions. Words are magic. Words are misleading. These strings of letters contain histories, feelings, memories, and worst of all, expectation. Language comes by its good-bad, right-wrong, off and on dichotomy honestly. Mostly, a symptom of two dimensionality.

A great light casts a greater shadow. The mere presence of the word hero will inspire hundreds to consider thousands of what if’s and then who am I’s and redefine themselves in the oppressive gravity of that bright, radioactive word. Hero is almost synonymous with conflict, is it not? What would true world peace do to the hero complex? What’s the use in preparing for the worst if we never get to see the parachute in action? It’s fire, not water department. That’s four kinds of weapon on any police officer’s belt. A miniature version of the shield that might serve them better decorating their bulletproof vest. We don’t come equipped for peace. People don’t really seem to seriously believe in it even as possibility. Same with God. More comfortable with words like belief, and faith, than opening our eyes outright and declaring if God desired to be known, it is more than capable, and the world as we know and experience is its only testament. Everything, without exception, written in human language, is a secondary source, at best.

Words are fun. And easy. Manipulated. Like a walking stick, shaped for grip, for control, for thrust and use. But too often we trust them to tell us everything we know about the oak they were cut from. That letter that intercedes on all our words and with an absolute absence of subtlety, shakes us loose from them. Shatters that old bent dried up walking stick we’ve leaned on so heavily we’ve stunted ourselves through the pursuit of support we did not need. We’ve imagined our bones breaking and it has frightened us so we’ve decided to go ahead and precast everything about ourselves in language. And in saving, sanitizing our lives, we forfeited every grimy, heavy, clunky idea that made it worthwhile.

We’re handing over twigs and telling kids it’s a white oak. I’ve seen the second largest white oak tree in America, the Keffer Oak, in Virginia. No part of the massive three hundred year old, sixty foot tall entity was meant to be mine, was made for me. I could cut it up and split it and stack and burn a hundred thousand words from it, piece by piece, as a sort of revenge sentence against all the cold nights that ever nibbled at my ancestors. Bitterly, with sore hands and crooked back, like all conquerors, looking over my neat pile of firewood. But it isn’t Truth. It’s perception. A side effect of an intense, microscopic projection of our sense of self onto the things we create, we so desperately pretend we make up, like words. Like houses. And cars. The most recent gossip you’ve heard.

But that is not the same as the world. Thank God.
There is an insignificant barrier between our reality and our schemes.
That wonderful little letter separating words from worlds.

Some form. Or another.

I believe we are all some form of tree, reaching toward some form of sun,
digging as deep down as possible with some form of root system.
All that this man is is not on the surface, like a tree.
There is far more to us than can be seen, or achieved, or stood beneath.

We are all stacking cells like bricks, burrowing into our eternal selves
like we were digging wells, into the still flowing aquifers we all have
eddying in our core somewhere, eroding washed out circling lines
that record our time, and tell, at least, the length of our stories,
which no other life can cut into and realize until after we die,
expire, like the tree parted from roots, burned by some form of fire.
Leave some ash as dust upon the earth. Some rich white breath
to drift off and become clouds. The body eroded until no trace can be found,
except for some form of still buried root beneath a weeping stump.

I believe death will not be the end of us.
We are like some estranged form of tree.
We have not existed all on the surface.
There is much to Man that can not be seen, or destroyed,
or burned down by simple fire. Every ounce
of every being still exists after it has expired.

In some form.
Or another.

All the tree secrets

All life resembles rhetorical answers to questions about existence.

There are no truer conclusions than what is spoken by the passive voices of trees.

Secrets in endless probing roots which explode under and out where trunk meets ground.

A flattish line of quartz and topsoil like choppy water reflecting light in gleams and flashes, whole oceans of deep furrows glimmering like the side of a fish.

But dirt absorbs the light. Holds on to it. Gives back a dull color or two as thanks.
And keeps the rest.

But water is fast-changing, murky flows grow south and clear and confess awkward truth like ignorant youth.

So soil stays broken. Smaller fragments of a former self.

All parts of it translated to nutrient and sediment.

Ready to give us up all the tree secrets.