If you become the aliment and the wet, they will / become flowers, fruits, tall branches and trees.
Roots and Leaves Themselves Alone
… do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? / … Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. / Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
King James Bible
You’ve no doubt come for something. Why else would you be reading this now. I’m certain you’ve picked up this book looking for something. Maybe a small meal, or a slight repreive, a poem, a large cat for the lap, widgets, wonder, an orphan to minister to. Isn’t the mind always reaching, at the very least for breath. Haven’t you felt alone at least once in your life.
Weeks ago, I placed each pear on the page, one by one, like any writer or artist would do, each young, each shriveled, each melting, each crooked, each green, each cute, each brown, each irregular, each typical pear. I looked at each of them, and all these pears from one tree spoke to me in the kind of way that only several hundred pears can speak to you, with their faces, with their bodies, with what they are. Doesn’t language always come from the inside out. Does that make it the closest thing to our hearts, issued from the lungs.
The other day, I was in the back room of a barbershop making language portraits of visitors. I had an easel and a stack of printmaker’s paper. I invited each person into the room and they sat down. He looked at me. I looked at her. Each shared something, and I tried to capture that, tried to tack it down on paper and then hand it to each entirely present person. Sometimes I felt I had done a service, other times I felt that I needed more time, a whole day, five more minutes, wait come back, I only just began to understand you. No doubt we were both looking for something.
I realized, afterward, as I was packing up my easel and papers and stools, notebook, pen, and such, that I had been working with these people, and elsewhere with these pears, and even a few weeks prior on a self-portrait, and it all came to me at once: how was it that all this portraiture had happened so close together, how was it that it had not occurred to me until it had accumulated, here in the dead hours of the night as I drive home through the canyon, how is it that we had been given a whole collection of pears, of poems, of fictions, essays, interviews, and what was yet to come of it, what discoveries were to be made, what could be found in this issue, what would we miss until it grew a little more, until we looked a little closer, until we lived a little longer.
At times, I lay in bed and hope I’ve no doubt been alive for something. I’ve looked thoroughly in the face of each day that has come into my room, and, on rare occassions, the day is in the room just long enough for me to capture it.
Zach T Power