Selective Logging

Dwellingup, Western Australia

Foresters (said the sign) choose trees
     for particular purposes.
A perfect tree, tall, straight,
     is taken for construction.
The handrails of the treetop
     viewing platform. Its planks.
     Its high, deep-planted poles.
The new stumps
     of an old cottage. Its rough rafters.
     Its window-frames, weatherboards.

So a twisted tree is allowed
     to grow, like Zhuangzi said?
Blossoms for singing
     honeyeaters, shade
     for meditators?

Sometimes (said the sign)
a perfect tree
     is left to seed the forest.

A twisted tree might do
for an occasional table,
     sanded slice of gnarl or burl
     on a tripod of lumpy branches,
or a spinning top,
a candlestick,
a sculpture
     of the spirit of the trees.

And a perfect tree, a truly
     perfect tree,
might well enfold enough depth
     to make a bass guitar,
or encode enough delicate strength
     to form
     a cello.

Zhuangzi: see The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu, translated by Burton Watson, Columbia University Press 1968, p. 35.

“Enfold” alludes to the enfolding of information in the “implicate order” that physicist David Bohm has suggested may underlie the universe. This is discussed in his book Wholeness and the Implicate Order, Routledge 1980, chapter 6, pp. 140–171.

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