19 December 2007 | Vol. 7, No. 4


The trees planted in

the median

follow me. They

could be a kind of peppertree

given the narrow,

delicate leaves, like

children's fingers, the milky-white

sap, and berries

with a spicy, resinous smell.

I try not to look at them,

but there they are,

flaming red and asking

for my attention. The mind's


adheres to such things

and makes the world leap

into being.

Without the world, consciousness

shines in the dark cave of

your skull

and can implode or enlighten

depending upon your ease

with such light.

But the alternative—perception,

parsing things up, then labels,

and finally, the schematic

diagrams of the brain—

so often seems an ego trick

to make the little you

feel essential, or

like a new car is what you need.

Or an education.

A friend is reading Ricoeur in translation.

(Ricoeur's words denser than daylight

is long, so he could

still be reading, though I suspect

you understand "is reading"

as "read."

Don't you know we grow old

through such narrative strategies?

Couldn't it all

be present progressive?)

I'm dubious about anything

in translation,

especially French

literary theory, and wonder

about the hours

he spends grinding his mind,

delicate blossom, through such


Such precious time could be

better spent in the parking lot


the essential red

of the trees,

manifest without


About the author:

Timothy Bradford's poetry has recently appeared in CrossConnect, Redactions, Runes, and Softblow. He is the author of the introduction to Sadhus (Cuerpos Pintados, 2003), a photography book on the ascetics of South Asia, and in 2005, he received the Koret Foundation’s Young Writer on Jewish Themes Award for his novel-in-progress, based on the history of the Vélodrome d'Hiver in Paris.

For further reading:

Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 7, No. 4, where "Arboreal" ran on December 19, 2007. List other work with these same labels: poetry.

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