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Calculating steps

Andrea English
On Seeds (November 2023)
Inward Light

Calculating Steps

The once-great forests of our land,
trees that blanketed the continent
with quilts of seasons, are gone –
        saw-cut, rafted to freighters
and sailed away, often to be
caught by tides or tumults at sea,
        dispatched deep to the bottom.

Three thousand sturdy trees
make one strong ship of war.
"I calc'late these oaks will do it,"
        said the king's ship-builder.
"These woods stretch far as any eye
        can see, or pigeon fly."

"By simple survey, a martial fleet
of one hundred ships
can be floated within two years,
        maybe less if we get the workmen…."
(sure about cutting 300,000 trees.

Two centuries later, thin third-growth shoots
sprout from scarred soil.
Storms have washed away layers of loam,
        mosses and ferns,
most of what lives underground.
        Who remembers the original gift?

"Sink down, sink down into the Seed,"
Isaac Penington said. Let your steps
fall gently on that which roots all Life –
        reckon your walk by mindfulness,
not span of stride; there you will find
        a pilgrimage indeed.

Though your trek seem short, it may sow
whole continents with trees, greening Life
in every branch and twig that drops
        fresh cones, kernels and pips; each one
a small chance to re-seed an earth forsaken,
        build verdant ground again.

Andrea English is a member of Strawberry Creek Friends Meeting (PacYM).

Industry Earth Ecology

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