What the Trees Say

Poem by Ambika Talwar


Birds had stretched their wings for a while

knocked on trees, called from tree to tree

yawning with dawn peach-gold sifting


her way into our sleeping minds. Awaking

even the copper green sage lichen

leached into barks of tapering cedars


tall, stately, fragrant with longing.

I walked into a cathedral of trees,

where moss hung in filigreed strips,


where wood eaten by time

awaited the hymnal of its form,

before turning to red dirt. Or brown.


Trees were green with gloss; crowds filtered

into my little head while my feet longed

to curl up, be still from all this searching.


When I have wandered into forests,

trees have held me, told me of their origins—

the miles they have traveled; Now, they show me


their enmeshed roots like our destinies

intricately criss-crossed before time revealed

our beginning and our endlessness.


I asked for these myriad roots to travel farther

through the core to other ends of earth

so each tree could know sister and cousin


so each tree could sustain earth layers, relatives.

And when time comes for the devastation,

I asked for trees of all genes and systems


to keep the dirt whole even if waters

spill over and when they dry in creeks.

I know they listened, for sap on my fingers,


a leaf twirled tracing the morning air

fell on my cheek; insects, birds called fiercely

from 11 directions.  Even a butterfly


fluttered near me in an innocent twist of time.

Squirrel scoured broken trees for morning victuals.

All I could hear was the hum of beginnings


as wings brushed leaves lichen longing.

Our common destiny rests in damp earth deserts

rocks rivers whose skies remind with stories


old and new across borders lands planets cosmos

woven with grammar of divinity. When shall we

celebrate our skins filigreed with dirt? When awake?


As forests have done and we have ached for!

Is it true that we hunger for nourishment?

Do we have the food to salve our hunger?


To feed each other in bowls of gold before

time runs into its own cave, curls up, goes to sleep?

All Taoli-Ambika knows is to write what the trees say!


This time.


Is it not true that everyone hungers for nourishment?

Is it true that everyone hungers to feed another?

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Ambika Talwar

Author's Bio


Photo by Sato Tokihiro