Friday, February 17, 2012


Adam Bigelow is a horticulturalist, amateur botanist, organic gardener, musician, community activist, environmentalist and currently a member of The Great American Job Hunt.  Add to that description "poet." He recently sent me this poem, as part of my Guest Blogger project

   The hemlock, like so many of our trees, is threatened.  Adam calls the dead and dying ones ghosts, haunting us, as well they should.  This morning, awake early after my husband's rising at 6:00 a.m. to hike Cove Mountain, I look out the window at my own trees, the ones that greet me each dawn, and remember how trees, the Green Gods as I call them, have gathered around me all my life, beginning with the live oaks from my childhood.  I would wake up just as light was filtering down through their branches and watch them slowly take shape as another day began.

I've included a brief definition of Tsuga, to introduce Adam's poem.  We need our scientific definitions, of course, but we need our poems, too, connecting us to the world around us in ways that definitions cannot.  

Tsuga ( /ˈsɡə/,[1] from Japanese (ツガ), the name of Tsuga sieboldii) is a genus of conifersin the family Pinaceae. The common name hemlock is derived from a perceived similarity in the smell of its crushed foliage to that of the unrelated plant poison hemlock.
Unlike poison hemlock (Conium), the species of Tsuga are not poisonous.

The ghost trees haunt the trailside
(soon they will be falling)
a stark contrast to the green of the mountains,
they stand.  Some still flush green tips
you know, the edible part?
But most have turned grey,
the color of gravestones,
as if marking their own demise.

The ghost trees haunt the creekside
standing like smokestacks burning through the night.
Climate change, to the trout,
and the crawdad,
the caddis fly, and the hellbender
who depend on coolness to thrive
(soon they will be falling, one by one)

The ghost trees haunt the lakeshore
(soon they will be falling)
creaking like masts in the wind,
this haunted pirateship droops with moss and death
As it awaits gravity, and duff.

Soon they will be falling.
There’ll be no stump sprouts 
To mark their place, 
No young leaves to point to and say,
“There, there one stood.
Before invasion took them away!”
like the mighty that have fallen before.

Soon the ghost trees will be fallen
and rotted away, with 
nothing left to remind us.

Once the trees have gone, 
and there remain none for 
the invader to feast upon,
the seed bed can burst forth with life,
and Tsuga will rise again
to the canopy.

Until then,
it remains
 for us to remember.

---Adam Bigelow