Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Oak:


My father was Joe, who made his home
Beside the oak, his father was
Dan, who made his home beside
The oak. His father was Dan
Who made his home beside the
Oak, his father was David, and whether
He made his home beside an oak
Or not is not known. How many before
chose oak to dwell by is not known, but
I know the oak is a door
And I choose to go through it.

The floor is dark with acorns, the
Hard horns of their pale green sprouts
Curve down, boring under the damp lobed leaves
Piled in drifts beneath the trees,
Serpent eggs that bore into the earth
Creaking sounds as the the wood stretches
In the night, the bark, if it could be heard, has a sound in it like
Breathing, as though your ear were pressed against
The chest of a rough man whose feet spired out of sight
Into the soil, dark too, and full of tiny cavities
Where the pale rootlets send out extensions,
Until everything below is slowly knitting itself,
Drinking at night something
Down under the stones, some hands of lace
Penetrate the roofs of caves, and catch condensation
In the black tunnels over the pools
Of the spring.
A canopy of foliated holes shows
The sky through them
That looks like the belly of a cloud,
Veined with lightning roots that
Feed it the colors of fire
And whatever it is the bottom of moves
Over the hill and domes itself above the oak,
The fog slithers down ropes onto the top side
Of the leaves with a hiss
The ozone seals itself through the twigs, and spirals
In slow coils along the branches to the trunk,
The breathing sound is hard now, in the crevices
Clogged with lichen, as the channels seal to the ground,
And magnificent torrents of slow blue bolts course
Down, popping acorns like corn, the earth
Beneath vibrates into a low hum, the tongue
Of cold flame reaches the water in the caverns below
And slowly laps.

The price for this is an eye,
Which has been taken, for the night
Of nine generations
You must penetrate yourself
With the shaft of your own mind,
In nine bodies hang
On my rough breast
I am your oak,
And kin.

(The springhouse, just over the slope and directly below where the old oak tree by the Dutton house stood. No one goes there now, but the water is still good.)


SBD said...

the springhouse...How terribly exciting to see it up close. As a little girl that seemed so very far from the old home place. I dearly hope the bulldozers stay away! You are bringing our world to life. Thanks!

SBD said...

PS: Beautiful beautiful poem...I got overly excited about the springhouse

Dan Dutton said...

It was something to go to the springhouse! I'd never been there, which kindof boggles me, considering how nosey I am. I'd always assumed it wasn't that great of a spring & wondered why they didn't build close to Pete's spring instead. But it is a good spring, it just comes up, then goes back underground just in front of the springhouse. Was there a pool there when you used to go?


Cathy said...

Earth, air, fire and water. So beautiful!

Which Dutton built the springhouse?

Mary Beth said...

The hole in the spring house, the hole in the old Tulip Poplar so achingly akin!

Your poetic serpents seem the embodiment of energy/life form/ movement. Very nice "mind candy!" Also enjoyed the oak as door to realms of the past. I’m a firm believe that trees, rocks, even places hold the memories of what has happened there.

Mary Beth said...

It just hit me, the Confederate boys would have been all over your spring house searching for cool milk and water after their hard ride.

Thank you for opening another hole into the past.

SBD said...

Yes, it came out of a pipe much like Pete's Spring and a pool of water was centered at the base...
There was an old type of pump later that brought the water up to the old house.....

Mary Beth said...

Forgive me for projecting my love of symbolism onto your art… but ya did give me mind candy… so here goes:

Dark enclosed tree trunk with a view to heavenly light
Dark enclosed well house (cave-like) issuing forth life giving water
I see wombs, symbols of both intimate space within and of a place beyond infinity and eternity.
Are you inviting the viewer to be born into a different time/space realty?

Did the simpleton just state the clearly obvious?

SBD said...

Mary Beth,
It is obviously beautiful...inspiring. Makes me want to write.

Dan Dutton said...

Awh Shucks you guys! (he he!) - it's really great to have this poem strike a chord. And I love the handle "mind candy" because that's exactly what this one is - tho it will connect, I'm almost sure, with what happens in a later scene (the mental hospital). Opera has spectacle and approaching the oak is so charged with emotion and wonder for me that I thought, hey, why not just let it be totally cosmic? The memories are composite, but very vivid and tangible.

Who built the springhouse is a mystery which may soon be solved. The probable answer is that Daniel 1 made at least the stacked stone part of it - Daniel Hoskins, or possibly Pete, maybe even likely Pete, may have done the later part. It's possible my uncle D.H. may have done part too. Research research!

I can only hint at this point - I need some time to organize what I've experienced and seen today - but something neat is on the horizon!