The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.

night’s a chess-board
on a kitchen table
rows of  players in the half-dark

bent over its polished face
i see no queen//nor king //yet pawns
in hand-carved wooden white//

from the apartment house
between the mountain and road
through half-closed blinds
wink light-rays in a weird escape
towards us

like a deeply wrinkled woman
who has seen too much// squirms/aches
yet in a wild, ferocious act
str e  t   c  h es her womb,
giant steel bars
scraTChing over concrete
to embrace the horses, robbers,
knights and everyone in need
for rest

a little boy– father, mother next to him,
pours milk into a bowl of cereals,
(checked tablecloth)
a business man,
browsing tightly printed sheets
a single mom in a blue dress //
half-empty glass of wine

“let’s pray” i say
before i fall asleep”

& though my roots are pulled//
& scattered

on the ground
right//or wrong are molecules//
black holes
in crazy twisting loops,
i’m throwing seeds&

though my body’s stabbed
and cold in a dark road
behind the garbage bins

i dig hands deep in the soil
& plant
a tiny tree

Mary has us write poetry to quotes at dVerse today
my title “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” is a chinese proverb


43 responses to “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.

  1. I do like the idea of night being a chess-board on a kitchen table. Somehow I can picture that. And so many pawns in evidence completes the scene. Smiles. And somehow it really feels right, no matter what life brings our way, to plant a tiny tree….propelling life forward to the future, giving hope!

  2. mary is a show off…

    love the quote you played off of…the opening gambit of night being a chess board is great…love the whole light coming stanzas…the comparison to the wrinkled woman…best line though is right or wrong being molecules which makes them living…found that quite thought provoking…

  3. Just returned from my Europe trip (Holland, Denmark, Germany) … visiting the past … memories are flooding back … the walnut tree is still standing in my love’s garden … proud and strong … alt wie ein Baum … omg, C …

  4. Apartment buildings and homes in the suburbs create a fascinating and sometimes puzzling chess board….like the way you’ve presented in your poem.

  5. Your title caught my attention — it is a great proverb. But your poem is a world in itself, with all its confusion, unknowns and even desperation. The imagery blows my mind, especially the roots splayed and seeds flying and that final digging/planting. We need this kind of passion now everywhere on the planet. Thanks for your inspiration.

  6. I love the poetic response & quote inspiration ~ I was gardening yesterday so the throwing of seeds beside chess pieced night is stellar ~

  7. The thought of a chess board with just pawns… and then that scenery.. To me I see at some level middle-class struggle.. and planting a tree might be more meaningful than being a pawn on board of chess…

  8. I love this, Claudia.
    And these lines…on the ground
    right//or wrong are molecules//
    black holes
    in crazy twisting loops…stellar!

  9. I enjoyed looking out of your window, Claudia. How cool that you can see mountains from your house! Your quote makes me think that often when we get to do things it is already too late.

  10. Claudia, we see the tiny tree, yet we envision the full grown manifestation of our future years hoping we can witness what we’ve envisioned! Thank you for this image.

  11. You always come up with such interesting images, which work so well with the onomatopoeias in that fourth stanza – it reads like a cacophony! oh and I love: “& though my roots are pulled//
    & scattered

    on the ground
    right//or wrong are molecules//” – always a great read here!

  12. Claudia, what beauty you’ve captured here. It made my heart swell. I think this becomes my new favorite of yours because you seem to lose your soul to it and replant it.

  13. Life can be dirty business..with hands that are no longer lilly white..and you certainly paint that picture of the dirt of life here..

    But thank goodness there are those willing
    to persevere and get a little dirty

    to love a tree to life..
    goes on…in dirt and water
    alive as is truly all
    that counts…tree or man..we
    all play chess together..
    with or without stately court…
    water ‘us’ is all ‘we’ ask….

  14. The tree planting is the hope, the pawns lined up to the horizon in lock step are not. The next to the last stanza alarmed me since it seems to imply, unless the action is symbolic, imminent harm. How delicious though to see night as a /wrinkled old woman/stretching her womb/ because darkness within or without masks the imperfections, crimes, & misdemeanors.

  15. Feels very much deeper than just about planting trees – it’s also about planting seeds of hope, education, looking to the future… fills me with thoughts.

  16. That a phrase you should place in every place you can so that people can realize and start planting trees again…………… I don’t see people do that the world is more tech based rather then environment……. i feel both should go side by side……….. Whats wrong in planting a tree in front of a house which is built on

  17. A truly wise quote, and a wonderful poem to go with it. I like how you brought back the chess motif with your “offhand” comment about the checked tablecloth.