31 Days of Kissing the Wounds :: Day 3 ~ Uprooted

damagedshellpinepoint29may2015logo31daysWelcome to Day 3 of 31 Days of Kissing the Wounds, a month of posts about the beauty, longing, and soul inherent in our damaged selves; in the world’s brokenness; in the imperfection, incompleteness, and transience of all that we love; in our recognition of each other as the walking wounded; and in the jagged, messy, splintery, deformed, sullied, unhealed parts of me, you, the natural world, our communities, the culture. Each post will look at these ideas from its own vantage point, which may not obviously connect with the others.


Trees damaged reverberate in our souls. A poem, then a poetic piece, with some photos.


First, “On Falling (Blue Spruce)” by Joanna Klink (2016):

Dusk fell every night. Things
fall. Why should I
have been surprised.


Before it was possible
to imagine my life
without it, the winds


treeuprootedmeadowlongwood2may2016arrived, shattering air
and pulling the tree
so far back its roots,

ninety years, ripped
and sprung. I think
as it fell it became


unknowable. Every day
of my life now I cannot
understand. The force


of dual winds lifting
ninety years of stillness
as if it were nothing,


crowatadistancepcb8june2014as if it hadn’t held every
crow and fog, emptying
night from its branches.


The needles fell. The pinecones
dropped every hour
on my porch, a constant irritation.

It is enough
that we crave objects,
that we are always
looking for a way
out of pain. What is beyond
task and future sits right


before us, endlessly
worthy. I have planted
a linden, with its delicate
clean angles, on a plot
one tenth the size. Some change
is too great.


Somewhere there is a field,
white and quiet, where a tree
like this one stands,


made entirely of
hovering. Nothing will
hold me up like that again.


“We are always looking for a way out of pain,” craving a solid permanence, even investing other mortals, like trees, with the power to hold us and the world steady, timeless, as if their abiding presence is a testimony to constancy, reassurance for our teetering insecurities.


These blue spruces are in my yard, still hovering, still holding me up:


Next, Chris Stevens, the philosophical DJ on the TV show “Northern Exposure,” musing on the primeval connection between humans and trees:

What is it about genus arboretum that socks us in the figurative solar plexus? We see a logging truck go cruising down the road, stacked with a bunch of those fresh-cut giants, we feel like we lost a brother. Next thing you know, we’re … flopping money down on the bar. Wood. We’re under a roof. Wood. We’re walking the floors. Wood. Grabbing a pool cue. That’s wood. Our friends in the forest carry a set of luggage from the mythical baggage carousel. Tree of life, tree of knowledge, family tree, Buddha’s Bodhi tree. Page one of life, in the beginning. Genesis 3:22. Adam and Eve. They’re kicking back in the garden of Eden and boom, they get an eviction notice. Why is that? “Lest they should also take of the tree of life, eat and live forever.” A definitive Yahweh no-no. Be good to yourself ….– go out and plant a wet one on a tree. (Old Tree, episode 25)

We feel trees as our kin, they are embedded in our cultural myths; and we kill and scavenge them as a resource, a product that almost all of us live with. Look around you; if you don’t see something made of wood (floor, walls, furniture, paper, books, boxes), I’d be surprised. I’m sitting next to a burning fire in the wood stove.

How do we reconcile the majesty and dignity of trees, our awe of them standing upright, graceful, with the fact that most of us use them as toilet paper? How do we reconcile our inconsistency without being damaged? It’s not that humans can, or ever could, survive without using trees (and other plants) for heat, shelter, food, transportation (birch bark canoes, battleships, e.g.), and clothing. (Of course, we need them for breathing, too, but they take in carbon dioxide and give out oxygen while alive.) It’s more a question of how we harmonize and balance, in our hearts and souls, our contradictory views and actions.

Again, as Joanna Klink says, we’re always looking for a way out of pain, and denial of our uneasiness is one way to feel better … unless, unbeknownst to us, the energy of that denial — the trickling falseness of it — eats away at us, festers, drives a wedge inside us like ice cracks a rock in two, slowly, slowly, hardly at all, until it’s broken.

But how do we live, without systematically and continually denying our unease, our fundamental contradictions of beliefs, actions, thoughts, feelings? Walt Whitman, in “Song of Myself,” wrote “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself. (I am large, I contain multitudes.)” I don’t always live easily with my multitudinous selves.


I like to walk The Path of Life in Windsor, Vermont, a modest trail leading from the tunnel of oblivion/gateway to eternity through birth, adventure, learning, wisdom, hope, creativity, union, family, community, solitude, ambition, sorrow, forgiveness, respite, contemplation, death, rebirth, and back to the tunnel of oblivion/gateway to eternity.

"Death," on the Path of Life (Windsor, VT)
“Death,” on the Path of Life (Windsor, VT)

And rebirth:

Trees everywhere.


“A stricken tree, a living thing, so beautiful, so dignified, so admirable in its potential longevity, is, next to man, perhaps the most touching of wounded objects.” ― Edna Ferber, A Kind of Magic


Thanks for checking in. Be sure to see what the other 31 Dayers are writing about.





  1. “When Great Trees Fall”

    When great trees fall,
    rocks on distant hills shudder,
    lions hunker down
    in tall grasses,
    and even elephants
    lumber after safety.

    When great trees fall
    in forests,
    small things recoil into silence,
    their senses
    eroded beyond fear.

    When great souls die,
    the air around us becomes
    light, rare, sterile.
    We breathe, briefly.
    Our eyes, briefly,
    see with
    a hurtful clarity.
    Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
    gnaws on kind words
    promised walks
    never taken.

    Great souls die and
    our reality, bound to
    them, takes leave of us.
    Our souls,
    dependent upon their
    now shrink, wizened.
    Our minds, formed
    and informed by their
    fall away.
    We are not so much maddened
    as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
    of dark, cold

    And when great souls die,
    after a period peace blooms,
    slowly and always
    irregularly. Spaces fill
    with a kind of
    soothing electric vibration.
    Our senses, restored, never
    to be the same, whisper to us.
    They existed. They existed.
    We can be. Be and be
    better. For they existed.”

    ― Maya Angelou

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