Tag Archives: poetry

The Trees of the Northwest

The trees of the Northwest are old and large and as a rule, rarely lose their leaves.

They are Ever Green in the Evergreen State.

Except when they’re not.

The Douglas Firs, the Western Red Cedars, the giants whose girth took a dozen loggers to fell —

These are the iconic trees of the Pacific Northwest.

Except when they’re not.

Except when the tree, as common as pancakes, is a maple.

Its stature and shape won’t catch your eye like the thousand-year giants with the bark that puts off rotting for another rainy day.

But the maple’s blocky gray skin still reads like Braille beneath a girl’s fingertips, telling her to look up.

To see the spaces where the new leaves — Bigleaf but not yet big — overlap up to the canopy,

where the wind shuffles their new cells,

still supple with growth.

Looking up into the branches of a Bigleaf maple tree

Tagged , , , , , ,

Wet Winter Reflection

Cedar branches hanging over ferns.Mossy tree branches over a trail.

Even in winter,

Seattle’s five o’clock shadow is moss,

Its ferns hold fast to the hillsides,

And its evergreens keep their eponymous promises.

Tagged , , , ,

2011 Science Oddities: The world’s tiniest periodic table and a geophysicist who loved limericks

For my first post of 2011, I will turn your attention to two examples of the delightful idiosyncrasies of scientists. Others may prefer to call them the “geekery” typical of “nerds,” but that’s too dismissive when you consider how trendy it is nowadays to be labeled a “nerd.” E.g., “Geek is chic,” etc.

First, here is the the world’s itty-bittiest periodic table of the elements, which has been imprinted onto a single human hair (as a birthday gift, of course!). When you see this scientist’s hair, you too will realize the inspiration for this present.

Via @Holly_Richmond.

Second, let us take a moment of seismism (or silence, if you prefer) for the passing of Jack Oliver, the geophysicist who shook the world into accepting the theory of continental drift (as in plate tectonics, or, how the world is actually a broken jigsaw puzzle that floats on a sea of Jello that just won’t quite set). The New York Times Science section concludes its obituary of Oliver by pointing out his propensity for writing limericks, which he used in-between the chapters of his 1998 autobiography, Shakespeare Got It Wrong: It’s Not “to Be,” It’s “to Do”:

The youth wondered what he should be.

His prof said, “You’re missing the key.

Life’s not to be, but to do.

Pick a task, follow through.

You’ll live ever after most happily.”

Tagged , ,


the bread and the knife

Photo: Brian via Flickr Creative Commons

1 : a prayer consisting of a series of invocations and supplications by the leader with alternate responses by the congregation
2 a : a resonant or repetitive chant
b : a usually lengthy recitation or enumeration


by Billy Collins

You are the bread and the knife,
The crystal goblet and the wine . . .
~Jacques Crickillon, Belgian poet

“You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker
and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
There is just no way you are the pine-scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general’s head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the boots in the corner
nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley,
and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman’s tea cup.
But don’t worry, I am not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and—somehow—the wine.”

On a related note, I’m confident that my brilliant 3 year-old niece Emma is also capable of reciting poetry like this little boy:

You are the bread and the knife …
You are the bread and the knife …
Tagged ,

The Peace of Wild Things

“When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound,

in fear of what my life and my children’s life may  be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water,

and the great heron feeds.

I come to the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought

of grief. I come to the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting with their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.”

~ Wendell Berry

Camano Island

Camano Island, WA

I’m going to the woods this weekend.

Tagged , ,