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Sunday, 20 May 2012

The Man Tree

The man tree was our favourite.
A chestnut with two trunks
but looking back...
two trees had grown together.
I built a pin-hole camera about that time...
two pin holes for a new view on the world:
a lot of people with two heads
and trees... but this one was for real.
We'd build a hide-out in its boughs -
before the skies got photographic, that.

Old style. One bough became the pan,
the moment blinding us, the eyes
slow to adjust, the skies
presenting proudly the emerging print,
an image swimming in a tray
raised vertically. And then:
an X-ray of itself, a skeleton
some unseen hand was etching in the mist.

And finally, left over from the flash,
a blue flame dancing slowly still
along the hemiplegic tree's
remaining arm. One arm and leg gone A.W.O.L.
Cropped. And that quite brutally.
The thunder was not done. Rolled on.
Somewhere, you might imagine
the photographer disputing about truth -
the lightning winning out, I'm sure.

This for Poetics: Tools of the Trade (Verbs All!),
Manicddaily's fascinating challenge at http://dversepoets.com/


Claudia said...

dang...tight images...two pin holes for a new view on the world...then the emerging print, the image swimming int he tray, the x-ray..the cropped arm and leg..somehow it reminded me on artists and photographers in war zones, capturing the ugliness of the moment without power to really change things other than making people see..and that is something..

Brian Miller said...

one bough became the pan or moment blinding us...nice....we used to pretty much live in the woods...the trees a second home...really nice how you blended in the textures of photography...

Marbles in My Pocket said...

Incredible write, David. Tense at times, and vivid throughout. I enjoyed this!

Daydreamertoo said...

Loved this. Trees and kids (and the young at heart) seem to go together so well, don't they! :) Shame your unusual one got split!

David Cranmer said...

Quite visual, Dave. And "a skeleton
some unseen hand was etching in the mist." Sharp!

Crafty Green Poet said...

Excellent! I like the weaving of ideas in this.

Grace said...

I like the images you pictured here particularly the last stanza. I recall a thunder and tornado chopping an entire trunk of a big tree...it was a brutal sight ~ Nice share ~

A Cuban In London said...

A fascinating read. Especially through the lenses of one of my favourite art forms: photography. There's a little play on one's senses in that middle stanza "Old style.One bough became the pan..."

Great poem. Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

Tabor said...

I like that event he photographer cannot change the tree. It remains as it was.

Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful poem, Dave. So well done--subtle and yet absolutely precise and clear. I had a hard time understanding the second stanza the first time around, but going through again - and that was fine--it is really strong - the X-ray picture - the negative of the sky with lightning. And then you pan out at the end and go universal on us! Just terrific.

And thanks as always for your kind words. k.

Louise said...

Wonderful write....something a bit different. I much enjoyed your take on the prompt..thank you! :)

Mary said...

I love this, can picture it. Children have such vivid imaginations; and I love how you used the words of 'photography.' Definitely sad that the tree got split, but perhaps it can now be put to another 'use' in the world of children.

Richard Theodore Beck said...

great poem with added significance for "american chestnut tree" lovers since the tree is so rare due to an imported blight that killed over 3 billion trees

Victoria said...

There is so much to like about this, Dave. I'm fascinated by pinhole photography and love trees. I had the experience, also, of watching a tree (single trunk, though) split right down the middle by lightning. It makes you feel powerless.

hedgewitch said...

I really loved the progression here--great narrative, taking us from the simple views of childhood to the summit of metaphysics by the end, and all through the photographic metaphor. An excellent poem, Dave--one of my favorites for this prompt.

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

Flashing, superb force of memory.
"Emotion recollected in tranquillity", once more, old truth.

Windsmoke. said...

Very enjoyable indeed :-).

Dave King said...

I very much like your war artists analogy. Thank you for.

How wonderful to have the woods as a second home!
Thanks for the comment.

Marbles in My Pocket
Thanks, good to know you thought this.

Daydreamer too
Yes, although there was something even a tadmore special about it afterwards, although there was nowhere for the tree house to go.

That sort of thing happened a lot when I was a kid! Thanks.

Crafty Green Poet
Thanks for saying. Very much appreciated.

This one took one of the two trunks and gave it a witch-like appearance. Where it split it was brindled . We saw cats and other creatures in the markings.

A Cuban in London
Yes, I saw an early photographis flash captured on film once. It didn't go quite right anda blue flame swept along the pan from end to end - exactly as along the bough of the tree. Thanks for the comment.

Yes. Exactly so. Thanks.

A response to do the heart a power of good! Thank you so much for it.

Great to have your company and your comment. Much appreciated.

Indeed, in fact that is what did happen. It became the witching tree, because it ended up very spiky and somehow resembling a witch - and with the cat as well... see reply to Grace above.

Ah, we had a similar thing with our elms. Thanks for the info'.

I agree. It was quite a frightening experience at the time. In retrospect it became exciting.

Thank you so much for this, a lovely comment to have received.

Yes, it was. I hadn't looked at it quite that way before. Thanks.

Thank you.