Convince me you have a seed there

(Johnson, VT)



off Plot Road

in March thaw
I stop in a stand

of red pines

to listen to tilt
as each trunk

follows wind

in its crown
& sounds grain

against grain

straining noise
as intimate

as that of a joint

aching into age
I can see

outside the pines

the weave of things
crows in a lone oak


the ecotone
where meadow

meets forest

white folks
clear cut

not long ago
to farm hay
on open land

later reclaimed

by the succession
of trees mostly

the mechanism

of small animals
& hard weather

on Clay Hill

above the valley
village I left

on foot to find

up Cemetery
Road the old

graves buried

in terraced drifts
headstones in rows

visible over snow

totally grayscale
except for sumac

at cemetery’s edge

upright red
cones torching

holes in the visual

field the way
the fresh kill

I found en route

melted the snow
its startled predator

had dropped it in

blood & feathers
a deep wet nest

the day looked

less dense
without leaves

but winter felt

thicker with
the effort of getting

there & I went

on past graves
holding settlers

& Civil War vets

until the pines
seemed to charm

me out of myself

to stop & stand
& think touching

their live hard sides

of Plato’s vision
the human not

an earthly but

a heavenly plant
the soul housed

in the head

threaded down
out of abstract

heaven to live

in the physical
soil the human

rooted in the two

worlds I look
up to see

each trunk

unsettled by wind
torque makes

groan & crowns

twist against
roots in earth

the way I might

fight an idea
that seizes me

with its weather

& I wonder
what it sounds like

the loblolly

by ArborGen®

its genes spliced

with Monterey pine
mouse ear cress

sweet gum

& even e. coli
to become

disease resistant

a SuperTreeTM
what makes a tree

their website asks

valuable & answers
superior growth

maximum value

approved by feds
its dense straight

grained wood

climbs to forty six
feet over nine

growing seasons

each tree a version
of Plato’s vision

an earthly plant

imbued with eidos
enough to better

bring it to market

the heavenly power
that keeps the tree

reaching toward it

a cold winter’s
warm day

filled the walk

uphill with thaw
falling loud

from eaves & limbs

& rills thrilled
the angled road

my socks are wet

& I stand thinking
of Thoreau who wrote

convince me you have

a seed there
& I am prepared

to expect wonders

& I think
of transgenic pollen


after it travels
hundreds of miles

& how farmers

can’t contain

between spliced

& wild species
& how hybrid trees

will intertwine

with the hungers
of the red squirrel

paused sideways

bright against
dark bark

an acorn between

its orange teeth
& I do not move

further toward

the laboratory
future sewn

in genes chosen

& fused to produce
fruit & fall

to seed a kind

of life not yet
legible to us

I want to believe

wind will make
new wood grain

groan & yellow

curtains of pollen
will billow after

mud season

finishes off
a long winter

I want to believe

birds will drop
coniferous seeds

in fields cleared

of old red oak
& rodents will store

hoards of acorns

that will root
& rise after fires

clear out dry pines

& all will continue
the succession

of trees in a world

in which we’ll touch
others invented

for a profit made

the very genome

grafted to capital

I stand inside
the charm the stand

makes out of wind

the stand someone
planted & didn’t

harm or harvest

& so has persisted
beyond human

use for so long

the base of each
trunk is ringed

thick with moss

watered by runoff
washing nutrients

down yards of bark

years of touch
create this color

collaring the pines

with a green brighter
than their needles

material relation

the ensoiled soul
we’re rooted in

the way heaven

derives itself
from words for sky

& words for stone

the way a birch
has infiltrated

the symmetrical

stand at an angle
weighted by snow

its rough trunk

bent & its bark
sloughing off

botched swaths

around lichen
in wide ruptures

working upward

a sort of saffron
stain the startle

of fox piss in snow

From Doomstead Days (Nightboat Books, 2019) by Brian Teare. Copyright © 2019 by Brian Teare. Used with the permission of the poet.