“Shinrinyoku”

“Shinrinyoku”
(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley

I have bathed in forest’s em’rald essence
I have nestled, secreted away, in
Jade konara copse
I have placed my palms
Soft upon the scabrous skin of giants
Whose slowly beating hearts have shattered stone
Whose deeply delving fingers grip the earth
In lover’s embrace
Eternity is far too brief a time
For such a love as this, for such a love
Trees have for the earth
I have for the trees

Gazing skyward at my green universe
Amid kisses from ubiquitous night
Which fall like star-flakes
Through the canopy
I sense the unheard language of the trees
A faint susurrus welcoming me home
A shush of contemplation on the breeze
Voices of the trees
Quietude enfolds me as, eyes closed, I
Breathe the conversation of konara
Listen with my heart
To all that matters

The living scent of moss and loam, absorbed
Through every pore, a heady, arcane brew
Inebriating
Lulling, as the moon
Lets down her hair and deigns to coyly peek
Through silver-gilded burled boughs and leaves
And shyly paints moon-dapples on the ground
And the trees, amused
Approve with bowing branch and shaking leaf
As midnight sighs and winds begin to waft
Shadows blanket me
As I drift to sleep

And in my dreams I see konara copse
As though I were a bird in winging flight
Illumined by the
Golden summer sun
A living, breathing testament to life
A vibrant beating heart in tune with earth
A mother who gives birth to all that lives
Oh, mamori tai
I will protect you, my konara copse
For you have given me the gift of life
And I owe you a
Debt I must repay

22 thoughts on ““Shinrinyoku”

    1. Thanks, Grace. I’ve been itching to write something intimate about the forest for quite a while now. Reading some of your recent poems regarding our environmental disaster got me over the hump. I feel like I have plenty more to say about my love for nature and the urgency to correct our course if we wish to save what’s left of it. As always, thanks so much for your kind support. It really encourages me to keep writing. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Please keep writing.I am a fan of your work and am looking forward to reading more of your awesome pieces. I agree that things need to change so that we can keep this wonderful planet and nature in tact. 💕❤️💕

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey, Mark. I’m glad you enjoyed this one. Ironically, I’ve been doing this practice for most of my life. I just didn’t know it was an actual form of therapy. Whether it was growing up on a farm filled with junipers and pinyon pines, or walking in ponderosa, fir, aspen and spruce forests in this area, or exploring deciduous forests along the Oregon Coast, I always felt a peculiar and intense kinship with the trees. Just a sort of awe, you could say. I can’t imagine what it’s like in your neck o’ the woods. It must be amazing. I wasn’t sure if anyone would understand the title of this piece but I figured I’d leave it a mystery instead of providing an English translation. I haven’t been able to walk in a forest for a few years. I desperately need to do that again. Anyway, thanks for the kind words. Much appreciated. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Mike, I feel very lucky that the trees are everywhere where I live. I often work with a forest therapy guide and when we talk I often say that I am very lucky that I can go forest bathing in my yard. There are many acres of cedar, spruce and an assortment of hardwoods in the area.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I certainly envy the colors you have there among the hardwoods. Here, we have yellow aspens, orange cotrtonwoods, and dull red scrub oak in the fall. Our aspens are famous, of course (check out pics of the San Juan Mountains in SW Colorado), but I’d welcome some maples like I saw in Oregon to add some fiery hues, oranges and reds and salmon tones. As for scents, almost nothing beats aspens… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The pleasure is all mine, Mike. And I’m pretty sure this is my most favorite poem of yours. I can tell you put a lot of thought into it, choosing just the right words to make it such a special piece. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s odd, isn’t it, how sometimes we may not feel especially inspired to write on a given day, but when we just settle down and let words and images come, unexpected things happen. I had a few misfires today and kept deleting stuff, then I suddenly had a mental image of a green forest (and I mean GREEN) I saw in a video of Japan, and a strange blissful feeling settled over me. There it was, my inspiration. After that, it was a matter of deciding on a structure, and the words just came. When this happens, it’s all worth it, especially if I can share it with people and they enjoy it. Thank you so much for your nice comments, Michelle. I’m so glad you liked this one. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Ohhh I love it when that happens. It’s almost like your heart has to make preparations at first for the magic that’s to come. And then when that moment suddenly hits, you just know for certain that it’s time, and the moment is all yours. The discovery of words and the way they flow straight out from the depths of us is something that I never tire of. It’s the most beautiful thing in the whole world. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Exactly! It’s almost as though we’re just instruments at that point, with words flowing through us. I call it The Zone, and I’ve experienced it with guitar (when I could hear), nature photography and writing. Everything becomes quiet (well, for me, everything’s always quiet!), the entire world recedes into the background, colors are more vivid, everything looks and smells more intense and alive, and the level of focus is really heightened. I lose track of time. Everything seems to stop. I love the feeling of The Zone.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know what you mean about losing track of time. “The Zone” is a good way of putting it, and I love it when I find myself there. I used to feel the same way when I played piano. And this whole week when I’ve been out hiking and taking photos, I’ve found myself in The Zone during those times as well. It makes me sigh in a good way just thinking about all those wondrous moments.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Reena. There’s just something about a forest… Sometimes it’s difficult to articulate such a feeling in mere words, you know? Sometimes silence is the best way to express how it feels to walk among trees. Just listening (and for me, being deaf, it’s hard to listen, but there’s so much more to hear than just sounds in a forest, if that makes any sense). I miss it. I live in small town now and I miss being able to walk out the front door and walk around in nature. Writing about it helps. I’m so glad you enjoyed this one. Thanks as always for such a kind comment. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Rhyan. I had a lot of fun with this one. Originally I’d planned on writing something about the desert, but after several false starts, I scrapped that idea and just sat here for a while, not really brooding but just silently searching for that elusive spark. I remembered a video I’d seen (a music video by the Japanese band Cyclamen) that was filmed in this ridiculously green forest. I can’t understand any of the music due to deafness, but I was stuck by the intensity of the greens in that forest and that image popped into my head and that was all I needed. I certainly appreciate your kind comments and I’m really pleased to know you enjoyed this one. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve enjoyed all of your work that I’ve read so far. The problem is that I am absolutely crap at giving and receiving compliments and when it comes to poetry I am out of my depth so I lack the knowledge base to properly dissect the work and explain why I like it. This is true with many things. I am such a simple man. Either I like something or I don’t and most times I don’t need to explore the “why” of it. It’s my cross to bear.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. No worries at all. I understand what you mean. Sometimes I’ll find myself completely unable to articulate what it is I like about something and I’ll end up not saying anything, then I’ll feel badly about not saying anything. Poetry is especially weird in this regard, since it’s so abstract. A lot of poetry goes over my head, to be honest. Or, I’ll enjoy a piece without understanding precisely why I like it. I’ll end up over-thinking it and then it becomes frustrating. Anyway, no worries, mi amigo. Just know I appreciate your kindness. Means a lot to me. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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