Live Virtual Group Session: 7pm EST April 17th 2020

Thank you to everyone who joined us for this session! On a Friday evening we had approximately 40 participants connected to us from across the United States, with some joining from Virginia, California, and Massachusetts, and even some international friends from Canada.

Our text was “Speaking Tree” by Joy Harjo, posted below. After two readings of our poem, the group discussed the sense of trees as humans and humans as trees, and the relationship between poetry/poe-tree. What does being rooted and grounded mean without movement but with the desire to move?

Our prompt was: “Write about a longing.” Prompted writing revealed poetic language in the shadow of the text where time is slowed, there is a longing to dance, and a wind threading rings. In discussion of the writing shared, participants noted the rich descriptions of the connections between individual and communal experiences, the interdependence between our bodies and the natural environment, and the variance in our perceptions of the passage of time.

Participants are warmly encouraged to share what you wrote below (“Leave a Reply”), to keep the conversation going here, bearing in mind that the blog of course is a public space where confidentiality is not assured.

Please join us for our next session: Sunday, April 19th at 1pm EST, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.

We look forward to seeing you again soon!

Speaking Tree

I had a beautiful dream I was dancing with a tree.
                                                - Sandra Cisneros

Some things on this earth are unspeakable:
Genealogy of the broken—
A shy wind threading leaves after a massacre,
Or the smell of coffee and no one there—

Some humans say trees are not sentient beings,
But they do not understand poetry—

Nor can they hear the singing of trees when they are fed by
Wind, or water music—
Or hear their cries of anguish when they are broken and bereft—

Now I am a woman longing to be a tree, planted in a moist, dark earth
Between sunrise and sunset—

I cannot walk through all realms—
I carry a yearning I cannot bear alone in the dark—

What shall I do with all this heartache?

The deepest-rooted dream of a tree is to walk
Even just a little ways, from the place next to the doorway—
To the edge of the river of life, and drink—

I have heard trees talking, long after the sun has gone down:

Imagine what would it be like to dance close together
In this land of water and knowledge. . .

To drink deep what is undrinkable.

From Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings
by Joy Harjo
Copyright © 2015 by Joy Harjo
W.W. Norton & Company

17 thoughts on “Live Virtual Group Session: 7pm EST April 17th 2020

  1. Sarah El Halabi

    I Saw
    I saw that I visited Jethro
    In an ancient land
    In my dreams as a child
    My body was a shrine
    And Jethro’s wooden worn out doors
    Called to the soft skin of my fingers

    I saw that I visited a city in Yemen
    nestled in a cliff, a thousand miles barging
    into the sun
    In my dreams, in the Yemenite heat
    We prayed, a hundred people-even less
    Under a secret sun

    I saw that I wrote a poem
    A child of 9 years
    My pencilled shaking fingers a tree
    Rooted a thousand miles deep
    Fed words by the bodies of her ancestors

    I saw that I held you closely
    A woman of 26 years
    After a millennium of quarantine
    And in you, I visited all the temples
    All the cities
    Your body, the poetry of centuries
    Your human sweat, divine nectar
    Dripping under a final sun.
    Sarah E.


    • al3793

      Sarah the thousand miles barging into the sun and the thousand mile deep roots are as breathtaking as the thousand year journey you pen in the closing stanza. Andre


  2. A Longing~

    There is an ancient and wise sycamore tree whose home is along a creekside trail I travel.
    Its massive,mottled gray and white peeling trunk soars upward into the heavens.
    Stout branches extend outward as if to welcome and caress those who pass by.
    Expansive roots are like the gnarled toes of an old man who has seen better days.
    But there it stands, decade after decade.
    It is defiant and is ready to do battle with any enemy, of this earth or beyond.
    Enduring all, it remains proud and majestic.
    What wisdom it must possess.

    I selfishly claim it as my tree, the tree I go to embrace.
    It is there to console me in times of distress, in times of uncertainty.
    If only I could hear its voice, so I might listen to its words of wisdom.
    Words it has learned from its ancient ancestors.
    Sometimes, though, if I listen very carefully, I hear its faint voice —
    “Be steadfast, be brave, I am here with you.”


    • al3793

      Michele, I can see this tree, year in and year out, season upon season, budding, bearing leaves, dropping it’s seed pods and leaves, enduring another winter. It is witness to life around it, Injustice, war, pestilence, a lovers knife scarring it’s bark with a heart, many who seek its shade in summer absorbing the stories told. There it stands, doing what it is supposed to do each year as it adds another ring to count its years. I love “the roots like gnarled toes of the old man” and its accumulated wisdom. Andre

      Liked by 1 person

      • This was a prompt not difficult to write to, for this special tree does exist. I visit it every time I’m on this trail, as do others since the path up to the base of its immense trunk has the weeds worn down from others approaching it. As you said, what stories it could tell.


  3. chelletauz

    I captured a photo of you.
    You took a photo of me.
    I inhaled.
    You exhaled.
    The maple tree respired in that autumn night.

    The last leaf.
    She twirls off.
    The tree longs for her stay.
    He casts his silhouette.
    She lands within.

    How I admire that evergreen.
    I am shivering without foliage.

    Now that leaf in the silhouette is gone.

    How does longing shape?
    Perhaps it is that imprint of that leaf in the snow.


  4. Kanako Kitamoto (Kana)

    This is Kana. Thank you very much for listening to me patiently and attentively in the workshop.
    Let me share my writing here.

    (A moment of longing)
    A blossom bud is dreaming in the tree.
    A tiny, sweet dream, at a calm and silent night.
    It is as if the time completely stopped,
    but it is still flowing, moving, and walking, smoothly but certainly.
    In this moment, the time just before the dawn,
    everything is watching the world with breathless interest.
    To wait for something is to stay in this moment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sarah El Halabi

      Can’t emphasize how much I loved your lost last Kana: To wait for something is to stay in this moment. It truly was so beautiful.


    • al3793

      Kana, this is such a beautiful image of the dream ending as the dawn breaks and just before the dawn everything is breathless, watching. Andre


  5. “write about a longing”–Destination Point Reyes, CA. three friends exhuasted after a gruelling semester of teaching. Longing to recapture the spirit we created in that secluded house we shared and laughed in. One of us too exhausted to talk: You said “leave me alone, I don’t want to talk for three hours” and how that set off infectious laughter that made us forget the meal we were cooking. As the cooking pots lay scorched and abandoned, one of us ventured to get burgers from someplace not too far away. I sat in the bath listening to the whistling wind and admired the steep drop from our window to the sea…Sitting around the fireplace my New Yorker friends told me how they fled the city and its angst to find peace in California–and we found it that April during 3 days of conversation and hot chocolates…

    Liked by 2 people

  6. “Longing”

    Far as it is , where memories are kept
    Reminding me of a beautiful era .
    Somewhere between the past and the present .
    A nice setting with trees, flowers and children ;
    Me as child enjoying the sun until it disappears ,
    then welcoming the moon until tiredness takes over .
    To finally have a deep sleep with a feeling of excitement for the next day .

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Andre Lijoi

    A longing…

    I long to hold you
    to be close
    to feel your warmth
    your arms around me.

    Time has slowed for the moment
    yet a submicronic particle keeps us six feet apart

    I long to dance with you
    serenaded by a symphony of branches
    fluted by the wind
    threading the reeds of leaves and
    stroll to water’s edge
    embraced by the sunset’s pallet of
    yellows, auburn reds and violets
    sprinkled by the first stars of night.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Allison Zuckerberg

    Allison Zuckerberg

    I long to see
    The yellow tape come off like
    The grand opening of a new business in town
    Or a just married sign off the back of a bumper
    More people on the paths I walk
    Or less
    I don’t know what I’d see
    But I’d know
    They could all be there
    And the paths clear of
    Masks and plastic gloves
    The new litter
    People back on the middle of the benches
    Holding and hugging
    Not their insides, nor the outsides of the path
    And breaths as they pass.


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