With arms outstretched on the hill
An American chestnut tree stands resurrected.
In powerful silence she draws new life from an old stump.
Its blighted roots died with millions
Of her brothers and sisters
A hundred or so odd years ago.
She is a witness to the truth that love thrives,
As she casts a shadow over shallow graves lying
Stoneless and invisible in her valley.
The sunken earth is the only marker showing
Where our brothers and sisters enslaved were laid
A hundred or so years ago.
They were laid to rest in hallowed ground,
Wreathed in wildflowers, acorns and vines.
Laid among scattered paw paws and May apples.
Their graves are filled with the memory of seasons.
Beneath tulip poplars that witnessed
The solemnity of these graveside wakes.
This is the valley in the shadow of death where I am not afraid.
I want to lay down in her green pastures and weep.
This valley holds our broken history in her belly
And the hope of new life that sprouts on hilltops.
On this sacred, holy, ground you can hear
Owls flying at half mast cry out,
"We cannot kill what the creator knows is beloved."
Nothing is forsaken since love runs deeper than
Shallow graves and dead stumps.
Love seeps through roots into hearts and blesses everything.
Over the shallow graves and under the resurrected chestnut,
We remember our treasure lies in these woods
Where thieves cannot break in and steal or rust ruin.
This land is where our hearts live and
Where we weep for blights, floods, and injustices.
But even if we wanted to hang up our lyre,
The bluebirds and yellow-bellied sapsuckers, like a faithful choir,
Raise a song that makes the weary believe there will be love after death.
The woods themselves join forgotten bodies, blighted stumps, and birds
In “Alleluias” for this sacred, hallowed ground . Amen.
Written in Celebration of Warner Parks' Sunday in the Park, November 2012