Maybe you’ve seen one – a bearing tree. You may have been on Forest Service land and found the yellow plate branding the tree as witness to a boundary nearby. Not a demarkation but a pointing to one, or to where one used to be. Not the boundary itself and yet a part, a tie to it by bearing and distance that holds it true or proves it destroyed.


As a people, we pay great attention to boundaries and borders and perhaps not enough to the bearing trees and their invitations to witness and challenge. In this way we miss the way a river swells and diminishes or becomes given to meandering or sudden bursts of directional totalitarianism. We miss the way the dissipating bodies of spawning salmon blur life and death, how we stumble from one “Life Event” to another, or away from them, as the case may be. What would happen if we tarried at these points of witness? If we stood, like the tree, grounded in the invisible weave of our roots that know no boundaries, witnessing traces of passage.

Beyond the Field

Light, flake by flake touching down on surface tension
of ocean, strolling there before diving under forever.

Tectonic plates inaudibly grinding, shifting –
monumental fidgets.

The mind’s far edges twitch, sensing
kinships beyond reach.

Too much unseen, unknown, unknowable,
assumed missing therefore:

shadings, clues, transitions linking
rivers of event, imaged, not imaged, a flood

that rushes towards us, through us, away
beyond us before we wheel to face what seems

a trace of passage, ripple already stilling itself
in tall grass near the fence of the mind’s field.

Denise Levertov in This Great Unknowing: Last Poems