trees

ALL OK!

Hey, just got home and wanted to do a quick thank you.  Waited out the hurricane at a motel that lost power but had really thick walls.  We were quite lucky that Irma stayed on land; would have been worse if it tore along the Gulf.

What a beautiful sight to see all the Live Oaks standing (instead of crashing through  my roof).  They did shed a lot of branches but they’re ok. Best of all, the electricity was on! Priority was making coffee and turning on the air con  🙂

One small tree uprooted and took out the well pipe. No water at all, but I had filled the washer before leaving and there are about 10 gallons of drinking water from the R.O.U. (Reverse Osmosis Unit). Fortunately, my roomie is a hoarder, so he’s busily gluing and fixing a new pipe that will hopefully work.

Anyway, just want to thank you for your good thoughts, vibrations and prayers.  Certainly seemed to work for me. I know there are people not so lucky and even a few miles away, in Elfers, the Anclote River will crest today, going up 25 feet. Mandatory evacuation there, but many of us don’t really have anywhere to go. So good wishes to the Elfers residents.

 

You’ve all been busily writing and I promise to try and read everything, although I may not comment.

 

Sastimos! (good health, and of course, love and peace to us all)

 

 

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FOREVER FRIENDS

 

Through two decades

A dead Live Oak

Stood upright

Perch for families

Of Florida Black Vultures

What sights I’ve seen

On that stage

Young buzzards courting

Males competing for

The belle of the bough

Married couple kissing

Passing food between beaks

Here they are with baby

Showing him how to perch

And search

For newly-made swamp corpses

Other days watching them

Wings outspread

Drying out stormy feathers

One day the mom and dad gone

Baby sat for three days

Finally the smaller one returned

Maybe dad creamed by a car

While cleaning up the road kill

In the middle of city streets

Then the other day

A muffled crash in the swamp

Perch finally fell

And here I go in pursuit of my “art”

Worrying about Water Moccasins

And other snakes

As I wade through the grass

Snap, snap

On smart phone

That does no justice

To the thumbnails of Nature

Suddenly recalling last week

Vulture in my yard

Broken wing

Hopping around

Looking for a way out

I opened the gate and tried shooing him

But he didn’t get it

He did find a pile of tables and plants

Climbed up over the fence

Relieved he escaped

Yet what are the chances

A bird will live safely

With a damaged wing

Birds

Trees

Life yet death symbols for me

And I recall sitting under

Another Live Oak

Many years ago

And it splitting

For no good reason

Phone ringing, me running

My mother’s voice funereal

My favorite uncle died

The trees never lie

But do I think a tree

Can actually be

A psychopomp?

Birds play that role for me

But would a bird

Lead a bird

To the afterlife

Or does the tree’s soul

Take control?

After all

They were friends for so many years…

FL Black Vulture on my swamp perch

© 2017 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGES: Live Oak perch fallen in my swamp and FL Black Vulture on the perch in my swamp

 

SIBILANCE

 

Shifting wind

Storms of acorns

Still

Summer green

Spatter the overgrown yard

Sons of hunting black

Snakes

Sidewinding through

Sandy

Soil

Soon to brumate in burrows

Squirrels

Scamper in Live Oaks’ leaves

Swinging like trapeze artists

Snapping branches

Swaying canopy bisecting

Summer and Fall

Season of hurricanes dissipated

Staccato

Secret of winter

Swears acorn-rain

Signals the welcome coolness

Cyan

Sky by day

Stars visible by night

Cycling through constellational delight

Swan

Song of

Summer…

 

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

I WAS ONCE A TREE

 

*Feel like I was a tree in a previous incarnation (and an amoeba, dog, and sundry other collections of cells)

 

I was a young adult tree

When chopped down

We all silently screamed

But somehow

Lying dying

I noticed that some were missed

My friend Adonis was one

A proud, Bosnian Pine

And now, scrolling through FB

In my newest incarnation

I recognize him

Being celebrated as the oldest living tree

In Europe

From the Pindus Mountains in northern Greece

And my previous life flashes through my mind

Back to times before the axmen came

And murdered us for nothing

Leaving us there to rot

While they picked some berries

From our leafy hair

Or snapped off twigs to build a fire

 

Before that

We all stood in the Spring dawn as the sap rose

From the roots to the tips of branches

We all stood in the Summer nights

Softly singing our tree songs

Only heard by the forest fauna

Who smiled and slept in our roots

And branches

We all stood in the Autumn afternoons

Hearing the crackling of our red and brown leaves

As hunters moved through the forest

We trees trying to shelter our smaller friends

Fated to be dinner for these men

We all stood in the Winter mornings

Grateful for the snow that kept us warm

Holding in the moisture where we burrowed into the Earth

 

I did not last long

But happy to read that Adonis is still the Guardian

Of flora and fauna and lost souls who wander

Through the paths

Lovers who shelter in his leaves

Adonis who was a seedling in Byzantium

Adonis as an Ottoman at the age of 500 Earth years

Adonis as a witness when Nazi Germany

Occupied Greece

I wonder if Adonis

Can live another thousand years

And if not

Who will he be

Reincarnated like me

Imagine all the knowledge

And wisdom

Contained in his brain

Manifested into one

Who this time can run

When the axmen

Inevitably come

Again…

 

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE:  Adonis, via Dr. Oliver Konter, Mainz

BEST OF BOTH

 

The wind sings different songs to us

In our special pageants of power

I feel threatened by yours

You feel contempt for mine

Or is it merely a projection

Of the sheltering tree’s longing

To fly far away?

The soaring bird’s longing

For permanent roots?

The bird needs to rest in the

Arms of the tree

The tree needs to feel the

Caress of bird’s feathers

Can a tree be content

With only her leafy hair flying?

Can a bird be satisfied

Temporarily sojourning

In the roots of a tree?

 

© 1992 & 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: My Live Oak at sundown

LEYLAND CYPRESS ELEGY

 

Leyland Cypress

Name suggesting

Ley lines on the land

Lovingly planted

When the century was new

Barely as tall as my knee

To someday be

A screening tree

Southern climate

Encourages it

To grow, grow, grow

Shielding me from nasty neighbors

Hiding ugly PVC pipes

Reaching through sand

To provide water from a well

Extending to hell, for all we know

Because Florida aquifers

Are right below the surface

Deep wells don’t really exist

For those of us living a few miles

From the Gulf

Yet on my dirt road

Where city water will not condescend to travel

A ten-foot water well

Is used for drinking and showers

Now my beautiful tree

Is cankered

I’ve pruned

Sprayed Lysol and alcohol

But the prognosis is bleak

Mourning sets in

As the air-borne disease

Already seeks the new tree

I will not be here

If the baby escapes illness and death

If it grew while the century flew

To its mid-time

But still

A tree should be

Part of Mother Earth’s crown

But like many of her jewels

It will disappear forever…

 

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

 

HAMMOCK MYSTERIES

(originally posted 2-25-16)

Two-day old crescent above the

Withlacoochee River hammocks

Not much illumination

Especially for seekers of

Cryptic or everyday

Mysteries

People mysteries

Involving love and life and death

But the hammocks have their own problems

As the sea level rises in this

World of climate change

Trees drown

Fish and wildlife dwindle

So maybe they all seek

Answers in their

Bowers of earth

Castles of overheated water

Crisping nests of dead leaves

No time for love when struggling

To find food and stay alive

We are kin to other species

Suffering alike

On this changing planet

Awaiting illumination

That is in a cycle of deep sleep

How to wake it up…?

 

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Withlacoochee River Hammock

 

FOREVER PALM

 

Palm tree in the fog

Swamp sentinel beyond my fence

A tree since ancient times

Starring in its own mythology

Symbol in the birth of religions

Formerly centered in deserts

Oasis accoutrement

Palms gaining superstitious status

In different parts of the world

Spreading from countries and across the sea

Dried palm for long life

Retaining its leaves

Even after death

A reminder that the past

Is always a part of us

Place a cross of its leaves

On a table during

Raging storms

And lightning will be averted

In Thailand, two palms

Whose names mean

Forsaken and Affliction

Are never grown in a house compound

Sympathetic magic must be avoided

I look at my

Palm tree in the fog

And suddenly feel sure

It is not a swamp sentinel

Forbidding me to enter

But the complete opposite

Guarding me from the

Dangers of the swamp

Allowing frogs and tortoises

Cranes and tiny birds

To grace my yard

But never gators

Or snakes

To cross that line

Into my life

Yes, I do believe

The beautiful and forever palm

Is my gatekeeper…

 

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

 

 

HAMMOCK MYSTERIES

 

Two-day old crescent above the

Withlacoochee River hammocks

Not much illumination

Especially for seekers of

Cryptic, everyday

Mysteries

People mysteries

Involving love and life and death

But the hammocks have their own problems

As the sea level rises in this

World of climate change

Trees drown

Fish and wildlife dwindle

So maybe they all seek

Answers in their

Bowers of earth

Castles of overheated water

Crisping nests of dead leaves

No time for love when struggling

To find food and stay alive

We are kin to other species

Suffering alike

On this changing planet

Awaiting illumination

That is in a cycle of deep sleep

How to wake it up…?

 

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Withlacoochee River Hammock