Fall 2016 (Volume 20, Issue II): 20th Anniversary Issue
Thank You This and Thank You That
THANK YOU THIS AND THANK YOU THAT
says Walter in between numbers, and I have to agree,
a day later, as I’m pulling up oak seedlings—see how
they unfurl from the acorn: the pale strong stem
winches the cotyledon out of its helmet up into the air
free of the dirt while a tap root heads down into the sand
for hold—astonishing how a simple straight shot
can hang on. Like Walter: the trumpet held loosely
at his side while he paces and pulses, his head snapping
time, then he lifts the trumpet and gathers everything
into one straight arrow aligned along melody and blows
that thing so high, so clean, shedding notes like the rain
wind shakes out of the trees.
The trees stand tall in the slow continual rain of themselves—
sticks and bark and acorns. Walter says I wrote this little tune
and I think how bigness affords a certain modesty like the oaks
and their raggedy quiet, all the cells in my body still on reverb
a day later and Walter a big man now, so long on his feet
he probably doesn’t think about them anymore much how
they help him lever up that horn.
The notes are showering sparks, hanabi, fire flowers, the big ones,
shedding blooms that fall and blossom again, each spark a seed
opening into its own beautiful something. My God, Walter,
you call that a tune? The thing about plants is that everything
is already there in the seed: the radicle the stem the cotyledon—
all of it in there and ready to grow and unbend. Everything
keeps lining up in songs of praise—words, leaves, shiver
and shower and shake onto the page. God, Walter, don’t you
sometimes wonder—this baby tree or you or me, all of us
half-rooted in the dark, all of us bent on making something
that will catch the light.
· Walter White plays the trumpet.
· Hanabi is the Japanese word for fireworks, using the kanji for flower and fire.