The man who knew trees.
He moved like a man who knew trees -
not as objects, or even equals -
but, certain in his mind
that here were the greatest of all living creatures,
he stepped comfortably and quietly through the wood
and, without presumption or design,
acknowledged every one as if it were a friend.
he said, speaking as a believer would when entering a church,
“are the oldest living beings on the earth,
and make our span seem like a second’s passing.
If, out of necessity, we have to cut one down,
we should first beg its forgiveness,
as do hunters, living off the land,
when they must kill an animal for food,
out of respect
because they know the prey control the hunt;
or like a reluctant executioner
whose duty is to make a martyr of a saint.
For whenever an old tree dies or is destroyed,
we lose a library
where birds and animals have always come
to gain the knowledge of all of nature’s ways
and even we can, if we have a mind,
study how the world is made.”