Monday, July 23, 2007


Metabolic Metaphysics

Wolfy in an easy trot at heel,
I maintained my pace up the hill
and realized how often I’d been slowing
to a stroll recently. Our turning point,
the big, low rock embedded
in the dirt road, felt reassuringly firm
and smooth under my foot, but
at that moment a vascular twinge
under my left upper arm unsettled me.

“Okay,” I said aloud to Wolfy and the weeds
lining the road, “I have to get serious now.
More exercise, more consistent exercise,
and I need to lower my triglycerides again,
so that means a crackdown on the carbs.”
I thought about the implications of that,
and my step slowed, weighed down
with diet dread. Wolfy squatted, and I stopped,
assessing the massive tree in front of me.
The trunk didn’t have an ounce of fat on it.

A good, responsible tree isn’t burdened by gluttony
or guilt. Its leaves make sufficient food—no more,
no less. It takes what it needs—not what it craves—
from the soil. Sap flows at the appointed time,
unimpeded by lipids, plaque, or clots. A maple will
never need a sapwood bypass operation.

“So no more dipping into the cherries for me,”
I said to the tree, sighing. “And I suppose
I’ll have to eliminate apricots. Or maybe I should
give up dried fruit entirely, what do you think?”
I waited for some sort of response—a shadow
passing across the bark, perhaps, or a leaf
drifting slowly to the ground—but it was clear
the tree came from a different place.


Helen said...

I love the phrase about a good, responsible tree not being burdened by gluttony or guilt. (Although I would probably prefer to hang out with those ne'er-do-wells that are prone to midnight raids on the soil.)

crystal said...

I get those twinges too and tell myself I have to quit my once a week pint of ice cream ... someday.

I left you a message at the coffeehouse about poetry contests :-)

Mali said...

I just loved this. All of it. If only I could say that MY "trunk didn’t have an ounce of fat on it!"

Susan said...

Thanks, guys! Mali, my trunk is beginning to feel a little heavy to carry around. Helen, you can find me with the ne'er-do-wells, too. Crystal, I posted an answer for you.

Indigo Bunting said...

Is Wolfy your dog? I ask, as a friend recently named her dog Wolfy.

Susan said...

Yes, Wolfy is my daughter Jill's husky-shepherd. He looks like a black wolf, and has that distinctive wolf stare. But she named him Wolfgang, after Mozart. :-)