A Tree for Ezekiel
First of all, know this: the tree was dead,
It had already been dead for a time,
It was going to be dead a long while.
It was a stick in labyrinths of sand.
And yet, and yet—for this Ezekiel,
This dry-bone tree was clothed in chrysolite,
So that the leaves made glitterings in sun.
The bole was swathed in strips of China silk,
The twigs were mummied in gem-colored threads,
The shriveled root began to drink from earth.
A gust came from the East: the sound of wings,
And leaves turned in the wind—blue leaves and green
Looking, and each shaped like a human eye.
A dew arose from earth and bloomed as cloud,
Though in the desert, this was very strange
To see, and also there was far tumult
As if the dunes had changed to waterfalls.
The priest Ezekiel discerned a form
Among the staring blue and green of leaves,
Prismatic figure brightened by the light.
Ezekiel foretold: Your incense lost,
Your limestone idols headless in the dust,
Your cities and all of your histories
Wiped from the memories of everyone . . .
The centuries forget your name, your love,
The sons and daughters raised from infancy
In years that are themselves forgotten things,
And all there is of comfort is this tree,
Mysterious and riddling-strange to you,
A rainbow covenant, its promises
Too far away in time for you to see.
Marly Youmans’ second book of poems, The Throne of Psyche, is due out soon from Mercer University Press. Keep up with all Marly Youmans-related news at The Palace at 2:00 a.m.