Tree Huggers of the World Unite
Cross my heart and hope to die I graft my spine into the
I'm a tree hugger who gets a kick out of rubbing the wood.
I pledge allegiance to the most natural world
I can think of and still call it natural
so I worship everything besides my urban self:
rock and baobab, beast and bumblebee,
to make my virtual self as real as possible.
Suddenly I'm slurp-sucked upward by a capillary
attraction that could be just contraction though.
What's the difference if my thoughts are shooting up
xylem and phloem and then out a cluster of leaves
into the wide-open air called wind and sky
where I would pledge allegiance to the natural world again
if I could soar so high though I almost do at the tree's
Pantheist, all-around alchemist and whatever,
I salute the extraneous, the peripheral,
the superfluous, and the totally insignificant.
I see the extraordinary in just ordinary things
that whisper to me. Saint Francis is my governor,
and Walt smuggled me into the Secret Society
of Dead Poets when my spine was grafted into the pine even
though just for a harebrained fraction of a second.
Now I'm redwood here, live oak there. These
tough straws suck my breath up and breathe O2 back
I stand here with my back jammed into the bark
not into the wall where we all may be shot sooner or
later with pain-killing needles instead of bullets.
So let the Noble Savage scream for all he's worth
and sing for his supper as long as he's able to.
When they shoot me I'll turn and drop my pants to moon 'em;
they'll have a rosy red bullseye to aim at, right here.
H. Oerke recently returned to poetry after many years in development work with
the Peace Corps and other volunteer organizations. His poems have
appeared in The New Yorker, The New Republic, Poetry, and elsewhere.
In 2006, his two new collections, African
Stiltdancer and San Miguel de Allende, were published jointly
by Swan Books and the UN Society for Writers and Artists and subsequently received
the United Nations Literature Award. His most recent book, Never Seek to Tell Thy Love, was published in 2010.