Academic journal article Field

Lieu De Living Mémoire

Academic journal article Field

Lieu De Living Mémoire

Article excerpt

They have no close living

relatives, but because of their

ability to form aerial roots

and sprouts, ginkgo trees growing

one to two kilometers from

the spot where the atomic bomb

was dropped were among the few

living things to survive. Even now,

in autumn their fan-shaped leaves-

thousands of monks in their saffron

shifts-hold on

and wave. It's ok

to wave back, like elephants that return

repeatedly to the skeleton

of a matriarch to fondle

her tusks and bones. Once,

when a researcher played the recording

of a deceased elephant's voice,

the creatures went wild

searching for their lost relative, and the dead

elephant's daughter called for days.

In the basement I shuffle

the heavy stack of x-rays

of my mother's back, vertebrae ascending

the way the chunks of ancient

Roman columns rise, her ribs espaliered

like the branches in Taddeo Gaddi's

Tree of Life. …

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