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Ancient Bark and Branch

Don Hynes

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May 15, 2016

I don’t recognize myself in the mirror,

this profile of an old man; not the one

I think I am or feel in the bones of my face.

He seems to be sinking back into the earth.

I love the earth but I’m not going down, not yet.

My roots go down; I know them more than ever.

I feel the dark earth a living thing,

holding the stories of all I know and all I’m made of,

stories of the many people come and gone.


I know the trace down through the soil

and the deep peace of winter when I sleep.

My seasons are not like the city around me

and I struggle with incongruence.

I’ve found the path between the vertical root

and the way up with life force

into branches and leaves and the sunlit sky.

I love the wind and the rain as they stir me

with the awakening that comes each day

and around me younger trees but trees in their own right

that once were invisible, the hope of my seed.


When I see his old face in the mirror,

leaning forward in the way of his fathers,

bowing to the years and the coming embrace,

a part of me wants to let go to the decline

and feel the ease the earth will bring,

but another part, a strong one, wants to live

and breathe in the air and beauty of the forest.


I pull back the weight of my skull

against the old and tired muscles of my neck.

My shoulders are already back but my head must follow

and then I am aright, not lifted by the pride

I’ve always feared, but by desire, in assurance

and with the ancient bark and branch of the many trees before me,

stand in the light and continue to become a human being.



Ancient Bark and Branch