So much of what is supernatural

Photo by Becky Johns, beckyjohns7 at

So much of what is supernatural
turns out to be natural after all.
The ordinary thing misunderstood
becomes a mystery, implies beyond itself
a presence, a spirit, a power—
but once you plumb its nature
plumb its nature
it becomes pipes under pressure
and a moaning wind
or a big fish in the bay
or Darryl
or a lover’s cry and little death—
until at last everything has a label,
everything is an ingredient,
everyone is so much dice, mince
chopped by purest chance.
Sometimes I am happy knowing
why things are the way they are,
but sometimes I am not.
Sometimes I would like to think
that you might lay a rod of wood in my lap
and I could feel its grain with trembling fingers
and conjure the image of the tree from whence it came
and the boy who cut it free
and the girl he loved
and their most terrible, secret sin
for which I would weep and forgive them.
I know there will come a time
when I will go into the wilderness
and seek the shaman who awaits.
I will ask him to teach me
to read the memory of wood,
and he will tell me what I already know:
that my lesson must begin in the ground.

—Don Whittington


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