Open Mic: Learning from a Katsura Tree

By Scott Reilly

I left my home and the sounds of the ocean,

so close were the waves as I sat on my porch.

I would fall asleep at night. In my dreams,

I would awake before I passed, and then

I would close my eyes before being called away forever to the sounds of the sea.

My heartbeat would stop, and I would fall asleep forever in the sea.

I have looked in a mirror often, and once every twenty years,

I stop, and I examine the face of me, a portrait.

I am just a human being.

I would think of how graceful it would be for my skin

to become the bark of a hardwood tree.

It would conceal its age inside,

one ring for every year.

I see the rings that have scarred my face.

The pendulous features of a man are less graceful

than the branches of a Katsura tree.

The Katsura’s beauty lies in its branches that have

umbrellaed and touch the ground.

The other young trees that surround the old Katsura don’t mock,

but instead, they wait, they wait, they wait.

They wait for their own rings of years that will expand their trunks,

not as fat, but as the strength of an old tree.

I often feel my strength inside.

We are reminded every year of the time we were born. Perhaps one day, and many years away,

a gentle wind will blow with a scent of cotton candy.

And like the Katsura tree, I will lean and fall to the ground.

Before I am swept away, a young child will walk upon me,

and she will look closely at my skin and the bark of an old tree.

Scott Reilly runs Glaze and Confused pottery studio in San Rafael. To have your topical essay considered for publication, write to [email protected]

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