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Life Arts    H4'ed 3/17/22

Parallel thunders

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Message Gary Lindorff
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The great stadium is filling up.
Thousands and thousands
Are filling the cavea to capacity.
The atmosphere is electric.

In the middle of the field,
On the 50 yard line,
On a low platform,
Organizers are huddling

In small groups.
Occasionally someone
Crosses to another group,
Someone points to something,

They split up.
One adjusts something on a console,
Another signals to someone.
Technicians with yellow armbands

Are everywhere,
Checking connections
Covering cables,
Flashing thumbs-up.

Now there are sound checks
Reverberating in the great round.
A staticy: Chck! Chck!
OK. Chck! Chck!

The guest speakers
Are in their own group,
Most of them seated
Wearing bright scarves and patterns,

Floppy hats and feathers.
Lots of white and silver hair.
Some are in robes.
Now an old man

Is being escorted to the mic.
Good morning. I think we're ready. . .
We know why we are here, right?
Today we are going to plant trees.

Thunderous roar
Of 60,000 voices,
A thunder that, impossibly, grows
As everyone who can stand up, stands.

After a while the crowd quiets itself.
The speaker says: Let the children come forward.
First the maple children, Sugar and Red,
Please bring your trees to the 10 yard line.

Now Beech and Aspen children,
Please bring your trees to the 20 yard line.
Scores of children, each carrying a sapling
Each accompanied by an elder,

Are pouring, in perfect symmetry,
Between festooned goalposts
Onto the field.
Then the announcer says:

Willow children may come down now
And Silver Maple children.
We would love for you to plant your trees
On the 30 yard line.

As the children make their way
From both ends of the field,
The crowd goes wild.
Shovels and buckets of water are waiting

At intervals on the parallel chalk lines
Where the trees are to be planted.
Now a different speaker, an old woman,
Approaches the mic.

She waits patiently for the clamor to subside.
Then she says:
Let the sacred Oak children come down.
And the sacred Birch children.

We would love for you to plant your trees
On the 40 yard line.
Now a young woman steps up to the mic.
She waits for the excitement to crescendo.

Then she says: We would love for the Ash
And the Sycamore children to
Please bring your trees to the 50 yard line.
Many of the trees have been planted by now.

All the children who have finished
Planting and watering their trees,
Are standing next to them.
There are close to two hundred trees,

Two hundred children.
The people in the cavea grow still.
A profound hush spreads through the stadium
As an Ash child and a Sycamore child

Ascend from opposite sides of the platform.
They meet in the center.
In unison they lift up their trees
To a thunderous cheer and applause.

A cheer that you may hear
If you listen very carefully
During the ominous intervals
Between rumbles of a parallel thunder.


Note: This poem was inspired by something my friend Nick said when I shared my dream of organizing a celebration of trees in a football stadium. I think it was his idea to plant trees on the playing field. He said: ". . . ash or sycamore on the 50!"

(Article changed on Mar 17, 2022 at 12:28 PM EDT)

(Article changed on Mar 17, 2022 at 3:40 PM EDT)

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Gary Lindorff is a poet, writer, blogger and author of several nonfiction books, a collection of poetry, "Children to the Mountain" and a memoir, "Finding Myself in Time: Facing the Music" Over the last few years he has begun calling (more...)

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