Amy MacLennan   © 2011 All Rights Reserved

Concerning Genus Quercus


That the monks exerted order on this world,
that to convert the Saxons they said Odin
climbed up into the oak and nailed

Himself to it. That the crushed acorns
make a weak blood-brown dye
which early converts stained their shirts with.

That women tormented the fabric steaming
in the bubbling pots with pikes. That oaks
symbolize, for some reason, Reason.

That this is perhaps because they hold onto their leaves
which shred in the wind all winter. Hold them
until the time the trees are ready to grow others.

Or perhaps this shouldn’t represent wisdom at all,
that it is instead like our conservatism, self-interest,
the need not to be naked, possessionless.

That the tree’s transformation in autumn can be ground
and analyzed, swirled in an Erlenmeyer flask. That, as with
emotion, the leaves can be reduced to an element smaller

than the tiny spark of synapse, to the molecular reaction
of chemical to chemical. That beauty is merely secondary.
The chromatograph develops slowly: pigments pull

from the leaf; colors creep up the card with the solvent.
That our reactions are predetermined, that Goethe was right,
that love is only elective affinities, a carbon bond,

a benzene ring signifying alliance and nothing more.

 

David Blomenberg
Copyright © 2011  

David Blomenberg lives and edits in Indianapolis. His poems have appeared in Artifice, Poetry Review Salzburg, Tulane Review, Willows Wept, Presa, and elsewhere. Interviews and reviews have appeared in Sycamore Review and MusicWeb International. He is currently at work transcribing and editing the works of composer T. J. Koch.


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