The Maple

The Maple / Nicholas Kotar

I am.
Therefore, I remember.
It is what I love to do most.
Not long ago—a blink in deep time—
My eyes closed for the winter.
My eyelashes—painted wild red and orange
This time around—shed much later.
Brother wind was thoughtful,
His news
Of the sudden silence
In all the concrete forests of man.
I felt sorry for brother wind.
He prefers the scutter
Of the machine age,
Naturally.
But not sorry enough not to relish
The colors of my lashes.
The rivers looked smoky through them.
When they fell, I closed my eyes,
Grateful for the memory.

Now, I descend.
My body encased in ice,
My mind busy counting the snowflakes,
My soul expands deep into the earth.
There, I speak to the old ones.
(Or rather, I speak and they listen)
I feel like a child next to them,
They do speak, of course,
But not in memory.
They are time itself, I think,
Speaking only of now.

My soul drinks the loamy wisdom of winter,
And soon I stop prattling,
Coming closer to my tree-nature.
I can’t help it if man has influenced me
All summer.
He is spirit, like me, after all.
But soon my body begins to itch.
My mind forms words, not just numbers:
Robin red-breast
Woodpecker
Fawn
My soul rises from contemplation
As the old ones give me a word:
Man.
I open my eyes.
They are fuzzy still,
Impressionistic with that bright chlorophyll of April,
But I see him.
I am. He is. I remember.
He has come here often in winter,
But his steps have been erratic, labored.
Now he walks slowly.
He stops. He looks at me.
I see him. He sees me.
He touches me.
All the thrumming molecules of my body
Thrill to his touch.
I am spirit. He is spirit.
Be we are not the Spirit.
I remember.

Another place, another time,
When She reached out her hand.
I thought it was to caress.
But no.
Seize. Take. Plunder. Destroy.
She broke the story of all.
We no longer speak words to each other,
As we did before.

But now, he looks at me.
I feel his spirit, the joyful sorrow of it.
I know what I can do.
I do it.
I am spirit, he is spirit.
But we both seek another Spirit.
I nudge him with the memory.
I see. He remembers.


Nicholas Kotar is a writer of epic fantasy inspired by Russian fairy tales, a freelance translator from Russian to English, the resident conductor of a men’s choir at a Russian monastery in the middle of cow country, and a Grammy-nominated vocalist. His only regret in life is that he wasn’t born in 19th century St. Petersburg, but he’s doing everything he possibly can to remedy that error.

Visit his website: nicholaskotar.com.


The Maple: Copyright 2021 by Nicholas Kotar. All rights reserved.

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