When I was growing up, I would watch my father draw. He loves to draw trees. And somehow, he sees more about trees than I see. I think an artist must see more than we see. He makes the trees come alive on the page.
As I work on my poetry project about my father’s art, I remember growing up in Mississippi on the banks of Purple Creek, playing in the woods, building forts and pretending to live in the wild frontier like Laura Ingalls Wilder. I remember hiking with a friend and choosing “our” own tree.
So I was thinking all these things, trees in art, growing up in Mississippi, and working on the craft of poetry when I came across a blues poem by Etheridge Knight that inspired a rhythm in me.
A Poem for Myself
I was born in Mississippi;
I walked barefooted thru the mud.
Born black in Mississippi,
walked barefoot through the mud…
This is my favorite poem that I have written so far. Sometimes you work on a poem over and over, and sometimes they just come. This one came, and I am grateful to my Creator for giving it to me.
Dance of the Trees
—Look at trees, think of God who comes to bring love.
I watch you watching trees.
I watch you watching those trees
outside your window in the loft.
If you could walk on the roof,
If you could walk out on that roof and touch them,
You could feel their hearts beating,
their hearts beating out the rhythm of the wind.
I watch you drawing the trees.
I watch you drawing those trees
in perfect chiaroscuro, shading just so
Just so they come alive and dance.
The trees dance in the moonlight
when you draw them.
When you draw them, God’s hand moves.
God’s hand is moving.