Keith McFarlane

THE TREE

There is a hole within your mind
where there is neither sight nor sound
wherein streams light.
There is a spring from out that ground
where neither thirst nor hunger’s found,
and there’s a tree that’s rooted there,
that drinks that water, breathes that air,
whose leaves are thoughtful, whose roots
entwine. And as they burrow,
twist and wind, they change the earth
wherein they’re bound.

But turn. The sky is night; the waters roil
with shadows lit by poison blight,
excrescences of worm and slime,
mycelial, and faint as off-cast darkness
pregnant in the earth.

Diurnal are the thoughts of man,
the winged seeds his powers and plan
that from that light and fertile ground
are futures stilled, and written down:
an ark for cities made upon a hill,
for hands uplifted, bellies full,
and children in that open air;
our brotherhood encoded there.

The spores that fall are darker things,
a darkness each one makes within,
the choices made for self and ill,
the broken things of thwart and will,
all come to dust, intangible and mist,
yet drifting in that inner wind, and lying
ever in the earth their dark potential.

In-formed we are. And each one wakes to Eden.
And turns to siblings, parents. All thirst
for guidance, and in the actions, eyes
and words of others are the seeds, the spores,
the germs of knowledge: their thoughts,
their passions, coiled and kept.
Choice is our substance, as is the light
to which we turn or flee in fright:
our legacy is choice: to love; or hate.

All fall in season to our common earth,
cast out from Eden of our songs and myth
where God once walked, first knew
that absence of the living will, that crowned
potential, that freedom bought
at price of darkness, and wrought
from choice and knowledge.
And in that choice the fall of man,
and yet his glory.

Keith MacFarlane is a Scot who grew up in Dunblane, Perthshire. He hold a doctorate in Physics and lives and works in Amsterdam.

Keith MacFarlane is a Scot who grew up in Dunblane, Perthshire. He hold a doctorate in Physics and lives and works in Amsterdam. About this poem Keith writes, ‘ This poem has its genesis in a dream: a tree, a garden, and a disembodied voice that speaks, with perfect clarity, the opening line. I awoke with that line and a sequence of images, fragmented phrases, a strong sense of a poem awaiting transcription. The finished piece is more philosophical than spiritual: its central theme is choice. For it is not intelligence, nor consciousness, nor our moral sense that distinguishes us, but only the ability to choose for good or ill. To make the wrong choice is to be lower than the beast. And in the alternation of our choices there is both day and night, civilisation and chaos:  “the Fall of man and yet his Glory”. ‘