Loren Eisely – Timberline
In the fell fields where elfin timber grows
above tree limits and the world is dwarfed,
where every thousand-year-old pine is crouched
behind huge boulders like a rifleman
hunched to the earth, where even leaves must hide
against the wind that screams on naked granite,
this is where one comes
to be alone; not just alone, to feel
what life is like when one must cringe to live.
Here trees crawl forward on their knees, stretching cold roots
upward, drag leaves after them
upon a stunted body, but this effort
is not to creep away, but gain a summit.
Insects shed wings
lest they blow backward;
the mountain weasels squirm
forward amidst rock falls.
forgets the downward path, gives all, warmth, comfort, growth.
Each would climb
void space if that were possible, or could be. They will find a way.
Who asked them here? No answer.
Who sounded no retreat
before this age-long battle had begun?
What diplomats cried peace, there in the lowlands?
Who assigned this mission
to rise and trouble the galaxial wheel?
No one will answer, no, not seed nor root.
On this tremendous height there is no answer
I come as night’s sworn agent, cynical. I see that life cannot
speak to its purpose. These crawling, knobby roots,
save the locked struggle.
enter the mind.
Where is it the wind howls? Here. Where is it life speaks? Here.
weasels, like inchworms,
This is the final fell field. Who flinches here but crawls?
I, I, against the stars.
from The Innocent Assassins
Date: November 1, 2013
Categories: Loren Eiseley