By Denis Mair

The central pillar is so solid and definite
The tier above consists of firm supports, each shaped like half of an arch
Above that, tiers are hypothetical, each limber tip bowed by its own weight
The furthest ends are held up and out toward the light
So delicate that the light shines into their interior
Though flat, there is depth in their will to gather light
They are a slow fountain expressing the quest for light
Where have I seen this shape? It looks familiar to me
As if it comes from somewhere inside me.

I sit on the stump of a chopped-down forest giant
It is hard to imagine the sturdy pillar that once stood here
Or to see a ghost canopy spreading above my head
The pillar’s firmness was a virtue in the plan of a living thing
Now wrenched into a different scheme, it becomes a trial
To my posterior, an armless armchair of discomfort
Why does it seem familiar, and why did I gravitate to such a seat
As if I too had gone through a history of being chopped down?

The gash in a steep mountainside in Chiapas
Is the big brown scream of patient lives that once anchored this slope
Is the big brown scream of farmers who can’t take products to market
Is the big brown scream of fields in the valley, now buried under mud
Further down the valley, a whole mountain buckled and slid into basin land
Because green canopies were wrenched from dreams of gradual growth
Why do they seem so familiar, those howling machines with steel teeth?
Now on the valley floor, smashed by boulders from a landslide they set loose?

The samaras whirl down in bucketfuls I gathered as a child
Seeds with wings, or packets of possibility are otherwise spread
Into caches, to be forgotten by scrambling scavengers
Or to fall from lips that were licking sweet pulp
Most of the pips and nuts have to be squandered;
So only a few can lodge in special folds of earth
Why does it seem familiar, seeing all the living nuggets
Hurled with hopeful intent into the maw of void?
January 21, 2015
Trivandrum, India

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