Friday, September 3, 2010

Grand Arms Holding Shadows

Grand Arms Holding Shadows

The trees of New Orleans,
centenarian live oaks,
robed in black skins
sweep limbs out for others,
touch brothers across streets.

In muscular grace they frame
cabbies and bikers, lovers and
students, shambling loose
junkies —all souls on the move—
filling eyes and then dreams with strange
black-trunked salvation, forest-within-city,
grand arms holding shadows
edging streetcar savannahs, shining rails and hot sun.

Not citizens nor tourists, nor visitors-in-
residence, ever quite sense their ancestors’
bodies and hearts shaping out, starts and fits, over
million-year stretches, slipping moment past moment,
in the sheltering trees
on the margins of African grasses.

Human nights cannot dream, boxed in
vertical steel, nor in scraped-earth tract
sameness, vinyl-sided.

But the deep resting brain of
New Orleans woman
child or man,
that region of night,
humming silently inside, is a grateful meditation.

In all other cities, when roots reach
the plumbing, tear up sidewalks and curbs,
then the chainsaws come calling.
In all other cities, pharmacology
for sleeping, molecular tuning,
orchestrates dark velvet,
tamps down the bright fears.

But the trees of New Orleans,
centenarian live oaks,
robed in black skins,
sweeping limbs out for others,
touching brothers across streets,
spreading acorns through jaybirds,
grow patiently for decades,
neglectfully nurtured,
unconsciously honored, as crowds ramble by.


Bio: Luke Wallin, of Wilmington, North Carolina, has widely published fiction, nonfiction, and writing for children and young adults. He teaches these areas in the brief-residency MFA in Creative Writing program of Spalding University. Luke has new work online at Sisyphus (Hip Pocket Press site), Moon Milk Review (March archive), Dew on the Kudzu (July 22, 2010), and at his blog, Creative Writing and Conservation ( In June 2010 Luke gave a poetry reading in Buenos Aires, Argentina.