Tree Of Genesis

Poem By gershon hepner

Trees that, as in Genesis, cool as a collage
their roots below the ground and on high branches shady leaves,
do not provide us with eternal life or any knowledge
that’s sexual or religious unconverted man believes.
Although they’re loved by birds, they rarely are appreciated
by humans who convert them into paper pulp and wood,
because Man listened to the serpent when it postulated
that leaving well alone does nobody a lot of good.


Inspired by “A Little Bird, ” by Zbigniew Herbert, in a collection of his poems given to me by Linda yesterday. The poem begins:

O tree spreading like the tree of Genesis
intended for us birds to be a green house
under the revolving spheres’ bated breath
amid sand and clay amid clay and sand
in the midst of deserts which kindly winds
bring nothing but a waterless rain of ash

where to live but in the one and only tree
where you hear thick drops of falling bees
and the rustling of a pitcher full of leaves

I a little bird know my place
bound to a branch I’d like to be a leaf
that most diminutive quivering leaf

––for the wise serpent who lives in the tree
Who twines around the tree and rules the tree
Says that he who leaves the tree will perish
From thirst and hunger from fear of himself
Even if he prettily calls his flight freedom

truly I say to you says the wise serpent
if you won’t be as obedient as the leaves
as humble weak at a wind’s beck and call
you will perish and leave no trace behind––

9/7/06

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