Variation on a Theme
I spend myself with what if. I pray to spirits I don’t believe in about things I don’t really know if I want.
What do I want? A light-filled room? Applause? Kind words, a gentle touch?
And you? Not even the imprint of your body remains in the furniture. But you haunt me with your past, the one that spills over into my present and keeps me tangled in lost hours, restless days, sleepless nights.
It’s easy to keep repeating variations on the same inner monologue, difficult to quiet it and focus on something that is beyond the boundaries of myself.
And so I talk to the trees, like Chet Baker did. Do they listen? They give me mornings of birdsong, flowering into green and then transforming into autumn harvests of red and gold. Their branches, when naked, dance against clear blue skies.
I talk to the stars—
they pull me out, glimmering–
circles of the moon.
Is that listening?
It’s close enough.
The prompt for NaPoWriMo today asks us to write something inspired by another form of art. For NaPoWriMo last year, all the art I used for the month of April was inspired by the painter Joan Mitchell. And I have not stopped using her art as inspiration–lately I’ve been obsessed with her tree paintings. Both paintings, above, were inspired by them.
And so I thought to compose a poem about trees. The reference today to Frank O’Hara, who was a friend of Joan Mitchell, got me looking at his poems to see if there were any that talked about trees. There were, and I modeled the beginning of my haibun on his “Meditations on an Emergency”.
But I also was thinking of Lerner and Loewe’s song “I Talk to the Trees”. I like Chet Baker’s version, here with Bill Evans and Coleman Hawkins.
I talk to the trees
But they don’t listen to me
I talk to the stars
But they never hear me
You can see some of Joan Mitchell’s tree paintings here.