a season for trees

Cold’s white mission frosts unfolding hills, muting the vanilla valley.
Crusted ice crystallizes prairie grasses into ivory luminescence
as darkness genuflects with subtle inklings toward dawn’s precipice.

Soon, Daystar swallows the moisture of night,
and flocked conifers melt, trickling wet rivulets
between bark’s incongruous trivets waiting for
the murderous onslaught of humans,
who arrive each year laden with hatchets and chainsaws,
chomping at the bit, eager to usher in December.

Brenda Warren 2011
Process notes: Len and I had a roadtrip through Montana yesterday. We started early, and I wrote most of the piece in the morning, after driving through the Helena valley. Later in the day we drove through the Little Belt Mountains east of Great Falls, and saw vehicles laden with pine and fir trees, as families harvest them for Christmas. I finished the piece this morning.

This is a piece for the Sunday Whirl. The words were challenging this week, be sure to check out the work of other poets over at the Whirl.

25 thoughts on “a season for trees

  1. Wait – this was the Wordle? Hokey smokes, I didn’t even notice – very artful, Brenda! This view of human behavior through the eyes of nature is brilliant. Like I said above, I’m for tree farms, which are environmentally responsible, but any pet we’ve ever had eats needles and then “deposits” them elsewhere… But I don’t want a monument to petrochemicals in my living room, either… crap. The war is on… in my head!! (What’s new?) Great work, Brenda! Amy


  2. A great poem Brenda.
    I loved the imagery you created around the chopping down of Christmas trees.
    I’m a great lover of real Christmas trees – a lovely sign that Christmas is nearly with us.


  3. Neat poem, Brenda. I’m enjoying the comments almost as much as the poem. I love trees. I’m a poet, how could I not? I’ve planted some and I’ve cut some, but I realize trees, somewhat like humans, don’t live forever.

    They grow to maturity and then start to deteriorate. I doubt they feel pain, but if they do, then their demise, rotting from the inside out, perhaps for thirty years or more, would have to be excruciating.

    While the temporary use of a Christmas tree is wasteful, most of those trees are planted in cycles just for that purpose. If not for Christmas, they would never exist. The same goes for trees planted for wood pulp, without which, we would have no paper.

    When harvested at their maturity, trees do us a lot of good. From where you are sitting, look around and mentally remove everything around you made of wood. Even the things not made of wood would have been possible without hundreds of years of trees keeping us alive until they could be invented. Without mankind’s use of trees, we would still be living in caves without fire; with a life expectancy of may thirty years. We wouldn’t even have a spear to throw at predators.

    I think I like it the way it is today. Thank you, trees.


    • My husband and I question if future generations will experience forests. I agree that the culling of Christmas trees is a tradition that can be done with thoughts for the environment. My community picks up trees and chops them into mulch.

      Yes, thank the trees. Christmas trees are beautiful, and they smell good. We used to cull a tree every year, but bought a nice artifical Oregon pine at an unbelievably low price post season. That was about 4 years ago, and I love our artificial tree. 🙂 It’s beautiful.

      Thank you for your thoughtful comments. It’s nice to engender some discussion with a poem. It just feels good. 🙂


      • To you both – remember, pine trees are also recycled for cat litter!

        Having said that, the “real” Christmas tree in our church “bit” the back of my favorite sweater while we were offering praise music. Pine tar. Fresh tree, but damn!!! Amy


  4. The first part of your poem drew me into the scenery, and the last three lines jarred me. I’m not of the opinion that trees feel pain, but never having been a tree, I can’t state that for a fact. However, human greed does tend to mar this otherwise wonderful time of year, and your ending brings that to our attention. Well written.


  5. Your words convey the beauty and majesty of the trees, and the message is sharp as a chainsaw. Admirable work, Brenda. How envious that you live near such beauty.


  6. I had no idea where this was going until the last two lines, and then I burst out laughing, because I, too, have been “eager to usher in December” with this annual ritual slaughter! 🙂 (However, may it also be stated for the record: I have nothing to do with Christmas trees anymore, not even the fake variety.)


  7. You have made a stunning poem from that mixed-up list of words. I salute you!

    I too am ambivalent about the cutting down of living trees for a few days of glitter and glamour, and for years now I have used the maligned artificial tree.


  8. Brenda, your first stanza is superb. I love this piece. You live in a beautiful part of the country, and I envy your white Christmases. Though, now I am not sure I would hold up well after living in such a warm climate. 🙂



  9. Brenda – the imagery in your first stanza is so beautiful that the “murderous onslaught of humans” comes as a bit of a rude awakening. But that is what good poetry does, in my opinion – shakes us awake. I have such mixed feelings about the tradition of Christmas trees. Thank you for sharing the trees’ perspective.


  10. “Crusted ice crystallizes prairie grasses into ivory luminescence” is a gorgeous image, Brenda, and while we both wrote about bark trivets, your words are so much more interesting! In my young old age, I am a proponent of artificial trees. We store them in out basement and bring them out at Christmas to delight our senses with their twinkly lights and tradition.


  11. Lovely, isn’t it a blessing when the things we see touch us enough to want to capture it in words. You’ve done just that. I said to Sherry Sky lover last week,that knowing all of live is in fact, alive, I wondered if trees now do tremble at the sound of a chain saw and, feel the pain as they are cut into. Doesn’t bear thinking about, does it? LOL


    • I wonder about trees, too. People destroy forests at an alarming rate. If you fly over Montana, you can see clear cut mountains on the sides that don’t border the highways. The insidious nature of greed has the logging companies culling timber outside of the public eye. Driving through Montana, you’ll see very few clear cut areas, although there are some west of the Continental Divide.


      • I like buying from responsible, intentional growers, who space the mature and new trees in such a way that there is always something life-giving in their farms. The clear-cutting is totally for the wood, and it makes me sick… Amy


  12. How wonderful that your road trip inspired your wordle. I love some of the imagery you used in the first stanza, such as ‘Crusted ice crystallizes prairie grasses into ivory luminescence.’ And then the stark reality of the second stanza: so many trees being harvested for (hu)mans’ enjoyment at this time of the year!


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