Bear Witness #poetry #earthweal

The broken bodies of trees catch in the weir
carried by currents swirling blackly
like the current that carried your broken body here:
bear witness to the falling of the trees.

34 years of life transformed overnight
to 32 (and counting) years of grief
can nature or nurture offer some relief?
If so, then let still-standing trees bear witness.

Each fallen tree’s more than a hundred years to grieve
it’s passing, ring by ancient ring
we cannot look the other way, they block our path, we must
bear witness to the falling of the trees.

These griefs and losses that we carry with us
a mother gone, a childhood up in flames
burn back into a something else, a stillness
this, let still standing trees bear witness

Is our last clue, last hope: humanity
weft into nature’s healing tapestry
a song of love, a line of poetry
bears witness to the falling of the trees

And sometimes I believe there is a way
between the corpses of the fallen trees
the light of unimagined hope has found us: we
let the still-standing trees bear witness.

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Written for earthweal

For this week’s challenge, Brendan compares our journey through human grief with that of our journey through earth-grief, and poses the question:

Is it possible to grieve and hope at the same time? Such a question addresses I think our predicament as carrying on with poetry in the midst of such widespread environmental loss. What is our meaning? How can we proceed without becoming emptied by  despair? How does our individuality scale with global change? What of our human tribe that has caused this mess, is there any way to reintegrate it with the world? Is there hope?

I have tried to answer the question as best I can in the above poem, which can reach no better conclusion than Leonard Cohen did in his song, ‘Anthem:’

There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in

Every time I take a walk in nature, now, I see mighty old-growth trees felled by recent storms. While others step around them, I continue to bear witness. I leave you with this:

47 thoughts on “Bear Witness #poetry #earthweal

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  1. Yes, we walk among the fallen trees and let their falling be our witness, to the presence of absence, the ghosts we carry as a tribe and a world. When there are big storms the story is of the houses the trees fell on, the human tragedy. How much wider and worse the ravaging of the world, the ambiguous holes left there. It is good to leave the trees where they fell, to let them decompose and nourish their neighbors; that is a feeding death and a grief which births hope. Grief and hope are in those fallen trees. Great response to the challenge Ingrid and spot-on video.

  2. I think grief and bearing witness are twined together through time. Likewise, grief and hope often become linked–death and births coming together. As for the trees, we saw so many beautiful old trees felled in nearby towns from the tornado that came in September.

    And yes, to Leonard Cohen!

  3. Ingrid, this is spectacular.
    And sometimes I believe there is a way
    between the corpses of the fallen trees
    the light of unimagined hope has found us: we
    let the still-standing trees bear witness.
    xoxo

  4. There’s so much sorrow in the death of a tree. I think it’s needless death that’s the problem, not death itself. We try to cling to something we’re not even certain we want. The trees know, but we don’t listen.

      1. And when they’re gone, they’re gone. There isn’t a second rank of slightly younger trees to take over. We have stepped in to ‘regulate’ nature and ration things that take up space like trees.

  5. Ingrid, exquisite poem and breathtaking video with the Leonard Cohen song! “humanity weft into nature’s healing tapestry,” beautiful, hopeful image and my favorite of many gorgeous lines in your poem!

  6. Couldn’t agree more. This comparison between the teoubles of mankind and the fallen trees is rich and filled with wisdom. Amazing, Ingrid! Brendan’s so full of wits.😇

  7. So powerful and beautiful your words and pictures holding space for both places of grief and hope Ingrid. I loved you vimeo and song that went with in and the tree at the end circled in love where the light can find it’s way in! Beautifully woven!
    💖🙏💖

  8. “. . . a mother gone, a childhood up in flames
    burn back into a something else, a stillness
    this, let still standing trees bear witness”
    We witness, they witness, and the ground and water on which they fall witness, too. And then, like the troubadour you are, you give us this beautiful poem. Bravo!

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