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The heART of Ritual


Seasonal Poetry & Prose: 'Learning from Trees', by Grace Butcher

If we could,

like the trees,

practice dying,

do it every year

just as something we do—

like going on vacation

or celebrating birthdays,

it would become

as easy a part of us

as our hair or clothing.

Someone would show us how

to lie down and fade away

as if in deepest meditation,

and we would learn

about the fine dark emptiness,

both knowing it and not knowing it,

and coming back would be irrelevant.

Whatever it is the trees know

when they stand undone,

surprisingly intricate,

we need to know also

so we can allow

that last thing

to happen to us

as if it were only

any ordinary thing,

leaves and lives

falling away,

the spirit, complex,

waiting in the fine darkness

to learn which way

it will go.

"Learning from Trees" by Grace Butcher. Text as published in Child, House, World (Hiram Poetry Review Supplement No. 12, Hiram College, 1991). © Grace Butcher.


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