———Where did it come from, this call
———to the interior—
you will tree plant
in BC forests, four hour by chopper
from Prince George.
The cork boots, belt and shovel
bandanas and bungees, tin stove
and tarp all packed, the many days drive
in an ancient van sealed
with shiny hope and duct tape.
———Your puppy ebullience
bounding over the phone,
perhaps naïve, perhaps full-faith, both/and—
———it is your own interior you want to dig into,
four months without power, a phone, posts,
or a store—four months of trekking deep
into tree floor and spring flora, steel
spikes on your boots, hard resolve to stay,
———sweat, survive the entire time, learn thriving.
Today I bought you a simple bar of bio soap,
pocket knife, tin cup—you’ll grow
a beard, have much to reflect on
———in your solitary tent,
alone with your shovel and bag, no one to banter with
———but the bears and the wind.
———You say you’ve been meditating daily, as you tighten
your core and build up your back strength—
———you want to take only what can fit in your pack.
I see your shoulders lift, your mind
———learning to unburden.
———There is a root in your soft heart
that fingers down deep; white filaments
spread down, green shoots unfurl like fiddlehead fern—
———earth origins have spores and flowerings everywhere.
To plant is not to bury, I think. One is seeding,
greening, birthing work, the other a placing,
repository of bones in graves, tarnished treasures
in sunken chests. A bulb is a treasure, we
inter to the earth. So was my friend, the one
whose spirit I still speak to on forest walks,
the one for whom we tied prayer ribbons on trees
at the site of her death, hoping to bury our grief
and last gasp of life she called out there. The police
say she was in distress, called in crisis, but the love
she tended for her son was deeper than willow roots;
her last formed word was forgiveness, of that I am dead certain.
I recall his thin yellow frame
———like a paper lantern, fierce lit from within.
His voice, frail yet firm,
———of the veil, now thinning.
We sipped medicinal tea, tepid from
———listening, drinking in silence, peace.
He spoke of rites he wanted,
———setting aside time to speak
to each loved one, say thanks and sorry.
As he spoke, I heard a quiver of songbirds’ warbles,
felt a tremor in my own throat.
———I squeezed the bitter leaves from my tea,
thought of gauze and spice wrappings,
only the husk left behind, in the earth—
———all interior, luminous, set free
to find its origin.