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Robert Wrigley

Robert Wrigley

Robert Wrigley teaches at the University of Idaho. His most recent book is Beautiful Country (Penguin, 2010).

The History of Gods

When a lesser species rises among them
to consume the sun immemorially theirs,
redwoods will sometimes let go a great limb

and crush the interloper where it stands,
implying intent and therefore what we know
as consciousness. It is theorized they may be able,

via their massive and elaborate root systems,
to command the ground water itself, for the benefit
only of their kind—a government and fealty of trees.

Though perhaps what seems intentional
is simply part of the balance they exemplify,
the fallen limb afflicted by a disruption

in the nutrient flow precisely above where a hemlock
or pine has sprung forth, suggesting the decision
is no decision at all but simply cause and effect,

silvicultural machinery, as though it were not the mind
of a God but a body, reflexive to stimulus and wound,
actions neither revenge nor damnation nor self-preservation.

Although the darkness they rise from is their own creation,
and high in their canopies, lichens not found below,
delicate as fog, and birds that might as well be angels.


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