Home Self-Guided Exploration Hymn To Be Sung At Astronomical Twilight

Hymn To Be Sung At Astronomical Twilight

High Holy Days 2023

Poem written by Ann Bookman, used with permission from Blood Lines (Forthcoming, 2021)

Lichen, all that remains green, clings
to the naked stump. One piece of bark lingers
in the dirt, survived the shredding, only to be trapped
between decay and salvation.

I heard it howl when they split the trunk into billets,
heard the crass conquering laughter
of the hatchet men when they first saw
the wet sapwood in the middle:
you’d think they’d discovered America.

But you and I know
that tree had no more chance of living
among the rotting flesh
of humans and mammals –
or the underbellies of ancient sea creatures –
than any of us.

If you think it’s hard
to make out shapes and sense
from decaying dirt, then wait
till your eyes are used to the dark:
you will see animal hearts and the skins of ghosts
you will see tender shoots and saplings,
a grove of saplings,
like far off stars
waiting to be born
waiting for the light.