Madrone trees seem like afterthoughts,
twisting toward space unoccupied
by other trees, their red trunks
swollen to improbable girth,
thin foliage of big oval leaves
that yellow and drop in midsummer.
The Council Madrone was something else,
a massive trunk twelve feet across,
forking not far above the ground,
four huge branches curving up,
splitting numerous times to limbs
still at least two feet across.
The crown was a hundred feet high,
a hundred fifty feet across,
the biggest madrone in the world.
I went to see it in Ettersburg
when I first moved to Redway,
showed it to friends from Ohio.
Hop over a rancher’s fence,
a short hike up a round grassy hill,
and wow, that’s it, you think you’re close,
but you keep walking and walking.
The Council Madrone had history.
Sinkyone Indians held council here.
How many times, how far back into
this tree’s long life can’t be known.
It may have been a seedling before
the Sinkyone were Sinkyone.
This local wonder lost my attention.
I had other places to go.
The grass inflamed my hay fever.
Now I read the tree fell down,
February 3, 2000,
too old, too big, split by a storm.
I never thought I’d end up such a mess.
Cholesterol last fall, this winter, side pains.
It’s hard for me to keep the fire burning,
harder still to carry in the logs.
I’ve still got a heart full of other lives
I might have lived but didn’t for some reason.
How many mid-life crises must I have?
Cholesterol isn’t good for a dreaming heart.
I’d better figure out which dream I want
before I don’t have time to make it true.
The dreams that still seem possible are smaller.
I don’t want to call myself a failure.
In my heart I’m young, I’ll never be old.
I think this makes reality hard for me.
Nancy at the creek
in the pretty white and purple dress
I bought her at last year’s county fair,
shoes off, feet dipped in cold water.
Me with my camera
trying to catch an image
of her grace, her movement,
what makes her look beautiful to me.
I was cleaning in Rusty’s room.
The first shelf was mostly
lego sets and the tape player.
Down behind were decomposed
noodles from a noodle necklace.
I don’t know when he made this,
kindergarten or first grade.
He’s in fifth grade now.
The pieces were mixed with spiderwebs,
greasy dust, dead carpenter ants.
I threw the necklace away.
Cleaning is a slow process.
copyright © 2005 Carl Miller