On the Uncountable Nature of Things

Thus, not the thing held in memory, but this:
The fruit tree with its scars, thin torqued branches;
The high burnished sheen of morning light
Across its trunk; the knuckle-web of ancient knots,

The swift, laboring insistence of insects—
Within, the pulse of slow growth in sap-dark cores,
And the future waiting latent in fragile cells:
The last, terse verses of curled leaves hanging in air—
And the dry, tender arc of the fruitless branch.

Yes: the tree's spine conditioned by uncountable
Days of rain and drought: all fleeting coordinates set
Against a variable sky—recounting faithfully
The thing as it is—transient, provisional, changing
Constantly in latitude—a refugee not unlike
Us in this realm of exacting, but unpredictable, time.

And only once a branch laden with perfect
Fruit—only once daybreak weighed out perfectly by
The new bronze of figs, not things in memory,
But as they are here: the roar and plough of daylight,
The perfect, wild cacophony of the present—
Each breath measured and distinct in a universe ruled

By particulars—each moment a universe:
As when under night heat, passion sparks—unique,
New in time, and hands, obedient, divine,
As Desire dilates eye—pulse the blue-veined breast,
Touch driving, forging the hungering flesh:
To the far edge of each moment's uncharted edge—

For the flesh too is earth, desire storm to the marrow—
Still—the dream of simplicity in the midst of motion:
Recollection demanding a final tallying of accounts,
The mind, loyal clerk, driven each moment to decide—
Even as the tree's wood is split and sweat still graces
The crevices of the body, which moment to weigh in,
For memory's sake, on the mobile scales of becoming.

~~ Ellen Hinsey ~~
(Poetry, February 2003)