This week I checked out Wendell Berry’s The Country of Marriage and stumbled on a poem I hadn’t read before. Just a few days ago my kind neighbor Tommy gave me permission to harvest a few maple seedlings from his property and I spent an afternoon replanting them around the Warren with these same hopes for the blessing they might be to my children’s children. Once again, the sage words of the Mad Farmer gave me a clear picture of what it means for us to be keepers of his creation, standing amidst a breadth of old beauty that we didn’t ask for and don’t deserve. I’m tempted to draw out a metaphor, like I did in my song of the same title, but I think maybe it’s good (especially in light of the glorious autumn all around me in Nashville right now), to let the trees in the poem stand in their own bright significance as members of God’s creation.
PLANTING TREES In the mating of trees, the pollen grain entering invisible the domed room of the winds, survives the ghost of the old forest that was here when we came. The ground invites it, and it will not be gone. I become the familiar of that ghost and its ally, carrying in a bucket twenty trees smaller than weeds, and I plant them along the way of the departure of the ancient host. I return to the ground its original music. It will rise out of the horizon of the grass, and over the heads of weeds, and it will rise over the horizon of men’s heads. As I age in the world it will rise and spread, and be for this place horizon and orison, the voice of its winds. I have made myself a dream to dream of its rising, that has gentled my nights. Let me desire and wish well the life these trees may live when I no longer rise in the mornings to be pleased by the green of them shining, and their shadows on the ground, and the sound of the wind in them.