spirits of place

infused with
what?  forms shimmering,
almost not
there—breaking into bits of
color, sprinkled light–

watching the
air, you can’t quite be
lieve, place, what
you thought you
saw, significant portions
of which have faded

into blurred
memories that have
their presence–
the lost and found of the mind,
a vast space without

an index–
tangled up with myth,
stray remnants
dismissed as
merely imagination–
how do we discern

what is true?
maybe what is real
is really
made up—all
wrapped together in spirits
that are beyond sense

Brendan at earthweal discussed land-spirits and asked us to write about a local spirit. My locale has been NYC for 50 years, but within the city it has been constantly on the move. I thought first of birds and trees, which made me think of my own trees that move with me from place to place. My lemon trees are nearly 30 years old, grown from seeds planted by my older daughter as a young child. I also have a corn plant tree, rescued from the basement discard room in an apartment building I lived in briefly about 15 years ago.

tree sprit face tree 3s

I carry their spirits with me, but I have also given them form from time to time. Like the plants, they provide companionship and continuity, a living connection to reciprocal relationships that exist without needing any specific place or time.

tree sprit face tree s

18 thoughts on “spirits of place

  1. I, too, love the lost and found of the mind….so cool. Love your photos, too, and that the trees move with you……….I get attached to my balcony garden every spring and summer – plants are entities we have relationships with. Love this poem!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. How wonderful that you take your trees with you, Kerfe, and that you’ve had your lemon tree from seeds! I wouldn’t be able to move the trees from our garden, they are firmly rooted in the ground. Like yours, they provide companionship. I enjoyed the images that illustrate your poem, which is, like trees, quirky in form and shape. I love the way you describe them as ‘shimmering, / unfocused… breaking into bits of / color, sprinkled light’ – I can see that in the trees in our garden. I also love the phrase ‘the lost and found of the mind’ – maybe that’s where our spirits go when we die, into trees.


    1. Thanks Kim. We planted lots of things when my daughter was young and the two trees have endured, even through all the moves. I would not mind my spirit becoming part of a tree at all. I once lived in a place with a Rose of Sharon tree in the back, and it definitely provided both spirit and companionship.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the idea of transporting nature spirits from place to place within a city. Your poem really captures the way nature can still permeate our lives even in the most itinerate urban settings.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love this portable altar to the spirits of place … you’ve cared for it and watered it with your heart and art. What a narrative of shimmering (great word) tangled abundance you have here. Well done. – Brendan

    Liked by 1 person

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