California Oak Tree, Lake Lagunita, Stanford University


All the trees around this lake, around this world
have their heads held high, arms reaching skyward,
but you alone have your head flushed on the sand.
What happened? Why did you not grow upward?
Did the Angel with the Flaming Sword strike you
down for sharing the secret from the Tree of Life?
Punished like that Serpent from the Garden,
you crawl on the ground, your face in the dust.
You have never lifted up your head in glory,
felt the sun's embrace, danced to the moon's music,
drank the stars' nectar or been kissed by the winds.
Birds do not make their nests in you nor squirrels
call you their home and no one seek you for shade.
But on a sunny summer day, a child climbs
on your trunk, walks across your length or rides
you like a stallion and you feel proud again.
And when I roll a volleyball down your incline,
you whisper lessons of tolerance and patience,
how you've learned to listen, your ears always
touching the ground, hearing her heartbeat,
always in tune with the pulse of mother earth.

                                  — Peter Y. Chou
                                      Stanford, 8-1-2003

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© Peter Y. Chou,
P.O. Box 390707, Mountain View, CA 94039
email: (8-1-2003)