News From the Natural World: Specimen

Today’s poem was inspired by Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren, The Overstory, by Richard Powers, and The Hidden Life of Trees, by Peter Wohlleben.

“Specimen” (with a nod to Walt Whitman)

On a summer day, sit against a tree
in the shade of its vibrant green umbrella.

Settle into the peace of the day.
A slight breeze ruffles the leaves.

And then everything seems still.
But appearances are deceiving.

Beneath the scaly bark,
Water is being drawn up, up, up.

In the leaves above, sunlight stirs cells,
creating a coursing stream of sugar.

This fresh new food is pumping
through every part of the silent giant.

Grass tickles the back of bare legs.
Listen for the hum of life.

A whole hidden world
lies just beneath the soil.

Roots and mycorrhizal networks
branch off in every direction.

Sharing food, sending messages,
Communicating, cooperating.

Quietly going about the business
Of making life on earth possible.

Catherine Flynn, Draft @ 2020

Photo by Jan Huber on Unsplash

27 thoughts on “News From the Natural World: Specimen

  1. This is such a hopeful poem, Catherine, focusing on all the unseen life forces coursing around us. I found “Lab Girl” fascinating and both of the other books you noted are on my TBR list. I’m always inspired by how you pull inspiration from so many sources!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh trees, how I love you! Your poem has made me call out for spring! I miss those vibrant green umbrellas. I hope all of the trees around me are ready to get back to work soon. I hope soon. We still have freezing cold weather, but hopefully spring is going to to join us soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, I absolutely love this poem! I love trees. Since I was a young I felt that trees talked so when I read, The Hidden Life of Trees, I was thrilled! I do exactly what your poem says except, I hug a tree, close my eyes, and “listen to the hum of life.” It feels just like you describe! I love your words in the first three stanzas and how they show the reader what to do. Then, your line, “appearances are deceiving” foreshadows and hooks the reader! I love your lines, “ This fresh food is pumping/ through every part of the silent giant./Listen for the hum of life.” This poem is perfect for my daughter who is majoring in environmental science and forestry! She will love it, too! Thank you for sharing. I hope you publish this science poem.

    Liked by 1 person

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