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The Confusion of the Modern Mind Leaves Much Behind

by Kenneth Bridge  
11/17/2007 / Poetry

What sound is this?
This whirring, whining, singing sound
That pauses for a moment then bites deep again
Releasing the sweet savor of cedar as sparks
Tumble through the spreading canopy toward distant ground

But something else, a fly in the ointment,
An odor of decay, of carrion or rotting fruit
Still clutching the branch with frozen, lifeless fingers
No longer drawing life from deepest root

Why assail the lofty tree whose ethereal branches dance in rarefied air?
Rising from the corruption of the forest floor
Rooted in revelation, fed by prophet's tears
Reaching ever upward through endless years
Tree of liberty and tree of sanctuary
Asylum flowing through xylem and phloem
Assuming its shape through some divine topiary
The straightest and truest and tallest tree is of this wood most fair

The soul of the bole is the cross of Christ that crossed the Hellespont with Saul
Who became Paul and answered the Macedonian call to forever change the world
One-eyed Wotan deserted in Valhalla while Saxon hearth and home are populated sanctuary
Lyr and Lugh left behind as the best of Brehonic Law and Celtic song as praying limbs are lifted toward starry heights unfurled
Roman ingenuity and Greek subtlety interwoven in Lindisfarne's tapestry
A vining whose broad leaf twines skyward toward the bright
Finding firm arboreal support for reason and delights
What couldn't be offered by the old gods, now dead who never lived, the Resurrected One does give

Nations clash and realign, iron rubs against iron
Commerce dares the oceans terrors and primal lands bright with promise
Join the journey of rising motion, boughs push upward, liberty's promotion
Blessings abound, cures are found, injustice fought with light in darkness shining

Rising above depravity and savagery to bring life, salvation and civilization's blessings,
But now what chirping Babel arises from the West's own Christian nestlings?
While snarling stealthy beasts skulk among the dark and twisted undergrowth
Their baleful eyes seek out with bloodlust the singers of freedom's song and loathe
While those fattened on liberty's tree attack it furiously,
"Oppressor of my freedom, enslaver of my body, robber of my wealth!" they cry.
And cutting deep at the notch of their support they try
To separate themselves from that which bears them up
O foolish ones, the thoughts you think, the words you speak, the hopes you clasp
Arise from within the very tree that bears you up and yet you seek deliverance from its grasp?
With splintering crack the bough gives way, its plummet marked by twin plumes,
Smoking towers torn from bluest September sky
Where is freedom found, and dignity? Tolerance and diversity?
On the ground, where snarling beasts surround?
In seeking freedom and life away from its source what do you find?

The confusion of the modern mind leaves much behind.

Ken Bridge is a former policeman and pastor who lives in Northern Virginia.

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