The world is older than any thought. All thought.

The earth primary and larger than our ideas.

Step outside and look up at the oak, its broken

branches, the deepening split in its trunk.

How long before a huge limb crashes down 

yielding at last to gravity’s whispered invitation

to come home? The tree is one of a line on a ridge,

shoreline of glacial Lake Iroquois. All dying now,

crowns shrinking, boniness thrusting

through the canopy, everything changing.


Standing beside that giant lake you can’t imagine

a far shore. Where it stops the world does. One

oar stroke too many and you’ll fall

into the nothing no longer contained in a name:

night’s kingdom, chaos, place of origin and dissolution,

cellar of the gods, death’s home.

      The oak

is massive, your own self small

beside it. Learn this, not

to despair but to vanquish despair.

Be astonished.