From Shaman’s Circle, 1996, by Nancy Wood
The forest was an ancient tangle, so dense that whispers
could not be heard between the leaves, so tall
That birds became caught in branches and never reached
the sunlight, but spent their lives in the twilight
Layer where moss hung like ropes and the mist of ages
clung thickly to the air. Trees grew like sentinels
To history, older than animals, birds, or fish ever dreamed
of becoming when they were young and believed
That life would last forever. Those trees knew forever meant
long centuries of observation of weather, birds,
And animals, also ferns and moss, the sliding nature of
rocks embedded in mud and the temperament of snails.
Those trees grew up knowing all about one another, side by
side in a moss-green light, comforted by wind trying
To get between them and by rain falling in vertical shafts
anxious to penetrate their dry roots.
Those trees were necessary for balance, harmony, and beauty
in the world. All the animals and birds knew their importance
And spent their days and nights honoring their existence. Then brazen
people came and looked at the trees with calculating eyes.
They built roads and trails, then they cut them down, those ancient,
The trees fell gracefully, according to their nature,
one by one, with moans heard by birds and snails,
While in the river fish hid in dark pools. As the trees fell
they said: We bore witness to our time and
Each of you shall bear witness to a different time. Then,
where each tree fell, a child of destruction sprang up.