More Woodcutter Tree

Voice Card  -  Volume 19  -  Stuart Card Number 8  -  Sun, Mar 31, 1991 8:56 PM

The next installment of poems from THE BODY BESTIARY, as with last issue, are in the voice of the Woodcutter Tree.

Last issue, he told us how he came to be transformed from a woodcutter into a tree and what being a tree felt like. In this next poem's first ten lines, he is still talking about what it's like to be a tree, but now he's speaking of a different season and longing for his human past, when his flesh was "soft." In the poem's last four lines, he draws his discussion back to the book's (or tapestry's) main narrative, the story of The Duchess of Moisture, Moonlight, and his love for the Princess Waterfall.

The poem is entitled "Late in the Year: Where I Still Try to Understand The Woodcutter Tree (the "I" in the title is still Uncle Caterpillar, and you will once again want to expand the text field to fill the whole screen, so that the poem's lineation is not messed up):

Now it's winter; snow comes like the dreamed
Offal in the woods' death-farm; O, in these mists
It's not far to learn a truth, then find it damned. . . ;
Haven't you seen like whisperings in drifts
Of leaves broken by wind?. . . the sadnesses
Of trees ghost through me. . . ; I dreamed in the cloudy morning
Hummingbirds rose, and I ached for my soft flesh
Shriven in moon stillness to be with them. . . ; moaning
Is what I do best you see; in my high limbs
I fairly creak with it when night blows . . . ;
But of Moonlight you've asked, who came here once, what of him,
And the Duchess -- how her black hatred flowered
As he spurred away in his love for the Waterfall --
So you've asked me, so I'll tell you all. . . "

In the next poem, the Woodcutter tree continues to tell Uncle Caterpillar what he knows of the story of Moonlight, The Princess Waterfall, and The Duchess of Moisture. He tells how Moonlight, pursued by the jealous and vengeful Duchess of Moisture and her troops, leaves The Princess Waterfall with the Woodcutter Tree for safe keeping. The Woodcutter tree feels ashamed of his humble appearance in the presence of such a royal personage as the Princess. The poem ends with Moonlight getting away, and the Duchess' soldiers torturing of the Woodcutter Tree in revenge.

The poem is entitled "The Tapestry of Shame: The Woodcutter Tree Tells How Moonlight Left Princess Waterfall":

I saw Moonlight command his chariot's
Team of gilded bears before the morning;
Rains had turned the forests into chamberpots
That overflowed; torrents loosened my mooring
In the dirt as the bears pawed where clouds curled,
As Moonlight knelt beside me; mired in worms,
Gnawed on in my crypt of roots, burled,
Bathed in mites, I felt ashamed, but the storms
Had gathered; I was 'convenient'; he said,
'Princess, Love, stay here;' in rushes of wind'
I heard him; when the soldiers came he fled;
They ripped and rooted me; my blood-sap, rived,
Dripped, then ran in rivulets from my wounds;
Then a spring flowed from my roots like so many words. . ."