The following poem is a piece about missing and needing friends who are very far away. The 'friends' I speak of are not necessarily people; they can be the personalities and spiritual characters taken on by the trees that have been familiar to me in the past and, in some cases, present. The trees, of course, can also be taken to be metaphors for human friends and loved ones. My E2 name, "Hopeapaju", happens to mean "silver tree" in Finnish and is the name for a fascinating kind of tree that does, in fact, have silver leaves. During the summer, the glint in the sunshine; upon closer scrutiny, you can see that the silver is actually a soft, silk-like surface with a green tint.

I was thinking about the trees today
the dark oaks
the white birches with their scars like
bits of burning black bark
their peeling parchment
I was sitting under a silver tree
and looking up through the leaves to
the sky that was
blue enough no longer to be
so blue because
it burned so brightly
The branches pointed their leafy
fingers at me as if to say
No, this is not for you
stay here, with me, in the shade
I sat there and I stayed

The trees
I though of them, today
the bright green songs
they sing to me
the times they have whispered down my spine, and --
I was thinking of them, thinking
thinking, thinking.


When I visited my Finnish grandmother as a child in her old, rundown house, there was a Hopeapaju that lived just outside of her back door. This graceful, beautiful tree became a gentle friend, a source of comfort who would stroke my face if I stuck my head out of one of the second-floor windows. I will never forget times in which I would do nothing more than sit at one of those windows and watch the wind flip the silver leaves back and forth as if they were wings: the tree was my mentor, even my mother on some levels. I looked forward to seeing her every year as I came back yet another year older, another year wiser. Somehow, we were always able to speak to one another.

One year, I came back to my grandmother's house to find that the tree was gone. She had been chopped down because, from what I was told, her roots had wrapped themselves around pipes in the ground. This was the beginning of disillusionments for me: I found out that my grandmother was a corrupt old woman emprisoned in her own house; I found out that not everyone respects nature the way I do. However, years later, I can still say that my Hopeapaju is with me; she still teaches me, even though she departed from this particular era of physical existence when I was a child. I learn from her, and I learn from the experience of missing her. I pay homage to my memories by writing about her in pieces like this. Kiitos, hopeapajuni.

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