by Lidia Flores
(For Lewis Warsh)
There is a tree planted by the river whose leaves have been ever-green
in and out of season and in the vein of them flow the medicine
for the healing of the nations. Its arms out reach beyond
the borders of epochs and memories
its branches collect bodies of broken people and coils like a vine
through their wounds until they are restored to the root and bear great fruit.
This tree has bled itself into the earth and filled its trunk
with syrup and sorrow, laughter and laments that those
who thirst can drink. there was a man touched in the eyes
by the finger of God and the dirt of the earth. and what did he see?
He said, I see men as trees and again his eyes were revived
to such great sight. There is a dimension at such great heights
where poets perch themselves to pursue the winds with their
wide wings and the soar from their sufferings and on the branch
of such a tree do they clench their claws and wait and weep for
such a time to be released. I know of a man strong as tree like this
who has become the arms for eagles and sparrows, and the shade
for the heavy laden and sweat drenched weary. oh, what of a name?
who has become the very poems that were planted deep
within and broke their heads in death that voices may rise
in an off shoot and grow among the wars and wind. If they ask him
what great oak are you? Sycamore or weeping willow? How do you do it?
bleed and still be? give yourself to the weather of things even when you’re weary?
There was a pleasant quietness in his voice that collects your question marks
and gives you back semicolon, He places your thought on the road not taken
made of ellipses and hyphens fully confident that your discovery becomes the finding
of not him but you and you learn to think shadow and see sun or be sun
burning through the shadows that desire to sift you as wheat in your weakening
He softly said, son of sonnet, dactyl daughter : I turn the key
Without biting my tongue and the heart comes/Back on until it bleeds and I take back with one
Hand what I gave with the other and someone/Comes in off the street no longer invisible
And the kissing booth closes for the night—(1)
It was polar night in the caves cutting cursed with the unheard cries
buried in the silence of notebook and there came a poem
there came a hand of a man and he said to me what is your name?
I said nothing but in the script of my walls it said Legion for we are many
He took a pen and wrote to me, like a key and uncuffed me
from the shackles of soiled pages, He said do not be afraid
I have heard your voice. It is a soulful ache like Nina but a sharp
sword of the spirit though you tremble at your own truth but you
will learn to use it even though you are the least of them, Girl
like Gideon, get up and groan, your sound is a new song.
I went to school and sat at the right hand of an arm
who in assonance assisted me and affirmed me.
On a polar night in the parlor of poems that I poured out
he said, maybe if you could see yourself/ from a distance/
you could see what people see/ when they see you close up
and many poems passed, and he pressed me like an olive for wine
I cried in class many times, but he said, be …the signature on the dotted line,/
… he said you are a pool of light in the puddle/ at the bottom of a well. (2)
Many mornings were made from my mourning’s and it wasn’t until the
end when the coda called for me and I bowed my knee at the throne
after throwing up my thesis He said, there you go now, pick up your crown
there is viciousness in your voice and valor, take off your mask even with
your marred mouth make a sound, pull the papers, taut your pen and push.
So I became. I became what I birthed. I bowed my head to the crown and his
arm lifted me into the tree. He said now you must go but I didn’t want to leave.
Yet in the outstretch of my wings and opening of my beak, these poems pursued the
wind and like an eagle wide as the sky, they became flying scrolls. I give thanks in the ink
because I know in the casting of my crown, in the classroom of many where I was nobody
the seed was watered, and I became somebody. So now, I know someday, the same I will
become, in like manner, the same tree. arms wild and wide with assistance, and discovering
the new sound of voices in the wind setting them flame and forth like a song. You were my teacher and
turned me like page till a tomorrow came. Tested me and tore me from treachery. In my trouble you
always saw the new testament in me. You said write it. Warsh, I will because you were a tree that let
down your branches for me to perch, pushed me to fly and in your arms of assistance I found freedom
from the resistance. You venerated my voice and crowned me continually so I became, and I have
become the poet who once was, am and will become worthy of the crown. To the heavens I give my
adoration for as a tree you covered me, and fed me with the fruit of poetry, and touched me with the
medicine in your leaves. Here I am now, a breaking seed. soon to become a likened tree. oak, sycamore,
weeping willow, who knows? but the scrolls yet I bow my soul. to be and become.
(1) Nocturne, from Alien Abduction (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2015). Copyright © 2015 Lewis Warsh.
(2) Polar Night, from Alien Abduction (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2015). Copyright © 2015 Lewis Warsh.
About the poet:
Lydia Flores is a poet, scribe, teacher photographer & a multitude of mysteries with a heart for the nations. Her work has been featured in Quail Bell Mag, Z Publishing House, Pulse Voices & several others.