There is a tree I know, a favourite tree, beneath which tree I love
to lie, and focus on a mountain far away.
And as I look I hear the tree creak like my garden gate
and I imagine I have walked the so-familiar path
and now am opening the gate and passing through,
and wonder: where will I end up? where now, my destination?
and: does it only creak, this tree of mine, when I am here?
and: could it be my thoughts that make it creak?
and: what part does the mountain play in this?
You will agree that these are hefty thoughts...
and I must tell you that I think the whole of life
is punctuated using transcendental ands. Like bells, they toll
to draw attention to life's solemn and most Eucharistic parts,
parts not to miss if we would fully grow into ourselves.
The ands make life continuous, joined-up and pliable.
But now the mountain beckons me, and as it beckons, so the tree
creaks loudly once again. I hear the hinges speaking to each other
and to me. The tree no longer feigns to be a gate, but has become
a portal for perception to pass through - it swings, in fact,
to let the whole of me that is the true me through.
The tree's my tree of life, of knowledge, good and evil as they were
before we mixed them both together in our special human brew.
The mountain is life's ands and source of ands -
the source of all those Eucharistic bells.
Once, when I was sick and feverish, I flew
above, beyond the mountain, wondering what I'd find.
(Before the days of Google Earth, this was - though in this context,
what would that be worth? No option, but to go myself.
No other agent could have prophesied - none even tried.)
I saw a wonderland of white, a landscape in its wedding dress -
dressed not by nature, not by falls of snow, but at its quiet centre, by
The Riddlesdown Cement Works in full flow
the chalk dust from its quarry spreading out across the hills.
(I've often noticed this in life, that at the very centre of a waking dream:
the workshop that's creating it.)
I've tried a few times drawing them, the mountain and the tree;
it's never really worked a treat, the tree still looks a tree
and the mountain keeps its daily guise and is a mountain still.
Neither ever looks the thing essentially it is.
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