Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Nameless Trees

As Peggy has gone from walker to wheelchair to hospital bed so too have her windows to the world changed. Each has its own small jungle / garden /shrubs for her to ponder. Now the coral tree is out of view. She communes with some palms and a few slender and nameless flower-bearing trees. She has entered the unknown.

In fact most plant-life is unknown to me. Quick, get me a glossary. As a street-kid in the big city I called trees the goal line, second base or the foul pole. Some trees were for climbing if they had enough elbows.

Naming, it is said, confers power or dominance of a kind. Does the sycamore answer to sycamore? I suppose the poet gets creds for knowing the nomenclature. On the other hand, not knowing the names of trees is what got me into writing poetry.

I was an aspiring poet in the late seventies among about one hundred others at Port Townsend, WA. with Gary Snyder, proclaiming that we must first know the names of trees. First I thought I was doomed to prose hell. Instead, I found my own voice as the guy who didn’t know a birch from a beech or a swallow from a sparrow. I would relegate Snyder to the Bear- Shit-On-The-Trail school of poetry while I'm more in the Dog-Poop-On-The-Sidewalk, variety. I am what I am and I ain’t what I ain’t, as John Prine put it.

Peggy is enchanted by the thin-stem pink flowers and hummingbird we have named Old Chum. The tiny bird visits several times a day having found a habitat on a hair of a shoot, fragile as life itself. Between the anonymous tree and Old Chum she has created her own Eden where nothing is forbidden.




  1. I am so impressed by Peggy's ability to adapt and find beauty, meaning and interest in her ever shrinking world and by your documenting of it with such a light but honest touch. I watched my mother's world shrink for seven years until she passed last December at the age of 96. She had dementia and yet, like Peggy, managed to find something worthwhile in the tiniest slice of life. I think it must have something to do with being a writer. My mother was an aspiring writer and although never published, viewed the world with a writer's eye and found something of interest in the smallest details. Thank you for sharing and even though neither you nor Peggy know me (I am a friend of Lauren-Miranda), I send my love.

    1. Thanks for sharing your mother's passage, Stephanie. As the poet says, There is a substance within us which prevails."

  2. Having come from a different continent, I experience daily the. challenge of naming a tree!
    Brava to Peggy for studying the life force of the trees

    1. Yes, my friend, it's all about that life force
      rather than the caption under the tree.

  3. Simply beautiful, Norm. Peggy and you are unique wonderful people.
    sending love, Alone