methow grist 2011-2014 archive

Unrequited #3

My seventh grade science teacher
Posed us a riddle:
If a tree falls in the forest
And there is no one there
To hear it fall,
Does it still make a sound?
Of course, yes,
He said, with a plump smile.
But I had never been present
When a real tree fell,  
Never witnessed
The small catastrophe of severed limbs
As the thick trunk twists
And finally falls
Through the flurry
Of settling leaves,
Hard against the ground,
Never felt a blanket of loneliness
So complete
As when standing on a hillside
From which everything
Had been taken,  
And never heard the silence
Of such freshly emptied space,
A silence which I would come to fill
With a kind of grief.

I went along with him then,
Before I had learned
Just how much attention
A world requires.
Love and hate,
Truth and deceit,
War and peace,
Even life and death,
Each as insubstantial
As a wave of probability
Until we breathe life
Into one or the other.

Having lived a long time now,
And taken so much
From this generous place,
I finally understand
That the answer to his question

Really is no.




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