Redwoods (a sestina)

//Lauren Cox

Take my hand, dart into the woods with me.
These trees are wide enough to hold us in their bellies,
and tall enough to weave their fingers through God’s treehouse.
They’re so ancient they’ve grown sideways,
twisting around themselves as if to say,
don’t you know infinity is a circle?

We are tiny against these towering boughs that encircle
us like motherless kittens. They’re whispering to me,
listen! The leafy matriarchs have something to say:
“Time isn’t the urgent bleed of sand, or the last toll of a bell–
it’s oozing honey, purposeful rivers carving out cliffsides.”
You don’t speak their tongue, so I’ll translate
          in the language of the treehouse.

Your eyes flick up at the treehouse
as if the inhabitant could detect you with a blazing circle.
Look at me. It’s just us and the leaves on every side.
This society of green is at home,
and we can be too. Be the belle
of this grassy ballroom. We can stay.

It scares you when I say
that there’s more than tight corners and neat houses.
It’s not about the size but the comfort of your belly.
There’s eternity in your morning coffee, in the circularity.
We’re nothing to the redwoods, yet you’re everything to me.
Let’s make a home in the space between our sighs.

We don’t need a marble turret to see the signs.
If we listen, these gnarled walls say
how to stand still as time flows around us–
we’ll catch and release from our cosmic treehouse.
It hurts to hold and hurts to let go, but in the circle
lies the slice of peace that requires no belief.

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