Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Dead Wood Poem

Walking the skirt of the arid wood
the funk of memories molding and dead
round the forest hang and shield the path
That winds and bounds through roots and earth.
Leading, showing, glowing with light-
a way that is right. Among all that is
rotting. Knurled and curled are the trunks and twigs
these branches that reach out to block the way.
Though dead, they grow, and those who sow
the seeds of deception, lowing, stroll among the thorns.

Eye these trees, eyes and knees, knotted, diseased,
vapid and dry, and light above
splinters through outstretched tree-fingers.
A great and holy city, high above
where life seems to dwell, well up and spill
down a steep hill of green-
stopping short round the dead timber.
My heart burns to set the bramble ablaze
that covers the path to that cloudless light.
But the way is dark. Looming blackness and a fallen log
block my sight and path through the wood.

My toes turned toward the path, where hope bleeds faintly
through the branches, the log lies in wait to block my way.
Taller that I, it's girth makes mild my fiery heart until
only a glow remains. Not far away I see an axe, buried deep
in one dead tree. The rust grows thick, the blade is stuck
held fast from one last swing. And on the handle of the axe
a withered hand clings to hope where there is none. A man
long dead, one arm still reaching out.
His flesh fed the wood some time ago.
He swung the axe and there he fell
many trees. But where he failed I will succeed and cleave this log
in front of me. It lay so dry, so dead so
I take the axe from the corpses hand and pry
the blade from the Log he failed to fell.
Longing to ascend
and bring that song I hear from flaming tongues
above: a listening ear; and lips
that coals from holy fire touched might agree
to share some bright and limpid light with me.
But blocks the way, this fallen tree.

Axe in hand, furious blows rain down
upon the parched and thirsty wood. It drank
the draught of my rage poured through steel and
splintering shards. I swing the axe. Thoughts like wood beetles
bore into my soul and sting my mind. I swing the axe. Buried deep-
cries for belonging fly back in my face. I swing the axe.
The sun is setting; nigh falls the night, with my hopes.
Cracking, settling giving way, the tree groans. Once more, twice
the axe finds a way through the ancient obstacle.
Crimson grows the azure sky. The end is near.
Crackling leaves, and heavy breaths. The beasts of the wood
prepare for the setting sun. They smell the fruit of my palms
Weep round the wine press of the axe handle.
I swing harder, fearing the bloodlust
of the beasts, and my shadow has grown long.
I've been laboring for such a time-
But the log remains. I swing again.

A hole.
A small prick of hope, fueling my blows.
With a mighty shout, the tree gives way and rolls aside.
But the toast I raise in victory turns fast to vinegar.
Hundreds, no, thousands of fallen trees, some twice
the size of the one overcome, lie in the path.  
No way through. I'm undone. This can't be done.
Evening is upon me.

Amber glows the sun's last rays on the dead woods.
Weak, beaten, sinking to the ground. Knees to earth.
The dead man hand beckons, "come rest a while."
My hands upturned yield a crimson ink. What stories I could write.
So I scroll a scarlet note on the dead log. The axe at my side.
"You cannot pass nor fell this wood.
If axe or effort could or should,
I would have passed before the day
Was gone. And yet my bones attest
My frame was used by beasts for food.
I hear the music soaring loud
As fades my heart and swoons my hope
For the King with his great power ceased
To grant my resue from the beasts.
Yet with darkness closing in
I feel the burden of my sin
Not my might can for sin atone
The King must save, and Him alone."

I close my eyes.
My eyes are opened.

A still, small sound from a distance.
From a high place. From a place up the path.
The sound of water coming. It's building. It sounds like hope.
A cool rush gushes past me. Higher and greater the tide grows
until I stand to avoid drowning. And on the hill high above
I see water fall. Falling through the doors of the Holy City
Like music tumbles from a harp. It shines like diamonds
adorning a crown of life. And life it gave to all it touched.
Toppled trees stood and waved their new branches
Budded with leaves. And the logs that lined
the way above were washed away. Way down until I could not see them.
My worn and bloodied hands flow with the current
And I currently feel no more pain. I see every sadness and
misery trailing into the deep. And the water is replaced with a voice
like many waters. And finding my feet on grassy new earth,
I run. Up the hill where He is and I am not. That is all that matters now.
And in a light so bright that the music seems to pale in its
vast beauty, I bathe in the presence of He who speaks
and waters roar- who sings and the universe wakes, who
Bends down. Down. Way down. Takes my hand when I
would drown in the desert without Him. And somehow

I am made new.

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