Who should you ask about the way love picks at the surface puzzle, crunches away the discernable for the porous inner wood? How did those “clever natives” know boiled bark could treat a springtime wheeze? A little trial and error, sure, but mostly, the tree asked to be used that way.
We offend the unused trees when we don’t drink their remedies; this love metaphor and its host, this sycamore, are curatives for the loneliness that repeatedly opens up between ourselves and the Creator; to learn to love, go to love, its unsolved path on a crooked tree, and all it has downed or dropped.
Kick the leaves like parchment on the ground, shock the fat black beetle with your thick toe, rattle an inquest he can read, then listen for what’s asking to be written. I’m no expert, but the beetle seems to say: breathe out through your skin, feed off decay, and chew without redress—Love breaks open the bark to feed itself on what’s exposed, while the gasping soil is fed on what is shed. May language be an act of love. [from Flexible Bones] * * * From her listing at the Colorado Poets Center: Maria Melendez is the author of two collections of poetry from University of Arizona Press: How Long She’ll Last in This World (2006), and Flexible Bones (2010). She has been a finalist for the PEN Center USA Literary Award in Poetry, a two-time Honorable Mention recipient for the International Latino Book Awards, and a finalist for the Colorado Book Award. Her essays appear in Ms. Magazine, Sojourns and elsewhere, and her poetry and essays are widely anthologized, most recently in Colors of Nature: Culture, Identity & the Natural World. NPR’s American Democracy Project broadcast several of her essays on arts & activism, and she is a past editor of Pilgrimage, a literary magazine emphasizing the themes of spirit, witness and place. As an independent editorial consultant, she helps new and established writers create dynamic manuscripts.