Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
World news is unrelentingly grim and speaks again and again of “the movement” favouring this, that, or the other. Information “comes at us” thick and fast, and wound up hearts and minds respond instantaneously with knee jerk reactions – political and religious.
And action is, of course, sometimes, required immediately. But David Wagoner’s on to something here isn’t he? We must treat wherever we are as “a powerful stranger”, resisting the urge to panic and run, to keep moving at all costs, or worse, to try to force the arm of others. Stand still. Listen. Be here, be present, says the poet. It – life in the “forest” – answers.
Take a few moments to ask yourself what the bush or the tree is doing. Really. What are they doing? How long do you need to think about these things before noticing that your heartbeat has slowed down? You’re less agitated?
Movements? OK. Sometimes. But “If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you, / You are surely lost”.