© 2017 by AE Hines.  All Rights Reserved.  

X

ON MY 45TH BIRTHDAY

I rise and dress in the dark,

before the house stirs,

before the sun peaks above the mountain,

and precisely because I long to do things

I have not yet done

I walk into a shadowed wood.

 

Below me, in the Arboretum, 

the houses sleep in a lazy mist, 

betrayed by the occasional blinking eye

of a stray bathroom light —

some husband or wife 

readying for the day,

 

a day like any other Monday, really,

except that it’s a rusty bookmark 

stuck in the center of my life’s slim volume:

a book half-written, so few chapters

understood. 

 

My favorite place is here in Washington Park, 

among these redwoods 

where a vast cedar deck clings 

to the side of a treed ravine and hangs on

the way most men hold to insults or money.

 

Sitting here on this faded gray bench,

I crane my neck.

Look up and see the crowns 

of the great sequoias coming into view

in the morning light, 

trees themselves that are middle-aged, 

standing here seven hundred years.

 

How is it I never stretched out my hapless arms

and tried to hug one of them before?

How is it I never knew their bark is soft, 

pliable and accommodating as a sponge?

 

Some Europeans call the sequoia the boxing tree.

You can strike it with your fist and it takes

no notice, the bark yields 

and resumes its former shape.

Perhaps this is what it takes to grow so tall.

To live so long.

 

 

 — AE Hines

Originally published in Crosswinds Poetry Journal, Vol. II, 2017.

X