The trouble with gratitude is the same as its blessing. I begin by thanking the ash tree for being. Then how it looked in the rain when I was once struck by sadness or how its bark felt to the fingers of a blind friend. How it’s branches resisting its gusts gave wind a voice. How it gave me work to do one summer that made me sturdy. I’ll recall the beauty of its foliage and its absence these winter months. I’ll see the hues of the leaves which science still can’t name, the names which it has found, the pigments that an artist knows, paintings the artist brought me of its shadows over seven summers. I’ll see the hole in its core after a limb fell in the hard spring rains, see the home that hole made for a family of animals. I’ll know it’s a mystery how it fills me with a love for all things, and the mystery of its being in the first place, the desire it builds for some things to remain unsolved. This trouble I observe with gratitude is how a single blessing cultivates more. It is unfolding a prayer flag and stringing it from tree to tree. Before even completing the task, stepping along it to read strange figures stained upon on each patch: three jewels enflamed, an elephant, a horse, a snowlion. Without a trace of knowledge of the inscriptions and still not knowing why I rose so early on this near-winter day or how this song called itself to be set free, I’ll know what to do. I’ll begin once more by thanking the ash tree for being.
Vincent Hostak, vmh, is a writer, podcaster and filmmaker. His poetry has appeared in Sonder Midwest, Tejascovido and in Fall 2020, the Langdon Review of the Arts. Vince is Executive Porducer of Crossings-the Refugee Experience in America Podcast.
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