Conversation With a Tree
by Steven McCabe
I was walking down the street on my way to the club,
though it was a bit early,
to see if my connection in the underworld
could score me a certain device
when I heard my name.
I looked up and saw a big face.
Tree said, ‘Where are you going?’
I said, ‘Canterbury.’
Tree said, ‘Wrong way. And you’re not Chaucer.’
I said, ‘Blake lives down that laneway. Maybe I’m William Blake.’
Tree took a step back and said, ‘William Blake!
Imagine I told you I was a reindeer or a shaman wearing
an enchanted curvilinear headdress.’
I said, ‘You could easily be
and still be Tree.’
Tree stepped back once more and said,
‘Imagine enchanted space all-round, horizontal & vertical.
Me pumping air, enough, for the two of us –
both of us, Blake & reindeer & shaman too
day & night.
So tell me what you really need.’
I considered the question and said,
‘ More so than a certain device
I need the light of one star
flooding my plum, smoke-swirled heart.’
Tree said, ‘In this you are not alone.’
Tree huffed & came up close again curvilinear & vertical
Pointing away, far, to distant golden sand,
horizontal beneath vast night, black as smoke, arcing.
Tree said, ‘Over there. Those three figures
on camel on foot
swirled up & fishing about
aimed into a brilliance
& trudging below,
sloughing into the vast night…’
Tree said, ‘Go.
And while you’re at it, stay away from the underworld.
I know about your connection.’
I said, ‘Okay Tree.’
Tree said, ‘Okay,’ also
in a voice rough as bark
familiar with the underworld.