Breathe Like a Redwood Tree
like a redwood tree, my friend.
Fill yourself up
with the forest’s whispering, green exhale
and breathe like the oldest tree.
If you have forgotten how, as I did, in the wake of great sorrow,
rest your cheek against its ancient, craggy trunk and listen.
Listen to the stories of a thousand years of watching
clouds caressed by dancing branches.
Listen to the songs of a thousand years of
mockingbirds’ travel tales, spotted owls feeding their babies,
bull elk bugling and overseeing the herd rustle down for the night.
Listen to the memories of hot sun and cool mist and drought’s thirsty longing;
and fires that burn the tree hollow but do not smother its breath,
fires that pop open seeds to germinate and repopulate the forest floor.
Listen to the angels who tiptoe through portals of fallen trees
that still breathe and feed their forest family
through roots holding hands underground with all the trees in the forest,
nutrients and messages passing hand over hand, root to root,
weaving and growing one vast organism,
This tree has breathed a thousand years of changing seasons,
watched generation after generation of four-leggeds, winged ones,
and those who walk upright like you
come and go,
inhale and exhale,
as the clouds dance into mist and the sun burns through
and again, repeat, inhale, exhale;
watched them grow and love and die and
feed their beloveds from the breath of their own bodies
and the spirit that lives in the breath.
Through it all, the so muchness and the everything,
the ancient tree watches and listens, loves and grows, and
as patient and simple as the moon.
Listen, my friend.
You can breathe like that –
one breath, in and out,
one moment, here and now.
to the rooty tips of your toes
planted in deep, dark earth
and to rise to the tippy ends of your branchy fingers
gently brushing clouds from your eyes.
Allow the filling, the filling up,
allow the light, the lightening,
allow the inhale
and the space between
and the exhale,
as subtle as the tree’s true name.
Allow the light to breathe you.
Melanie Phoenix loves magic, language, trees, and dogs. She lives in Santa Rosa, California, with her adorable wife, Golden Retrievers, and cat. In addition to her day job training healthcare employees, she writes and posts a haiku every day, and she and her dogs are collaborating on writing a memoir.