Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Into the Trees with Rachel Ikins and Scott Bennett

Rachael Z. Ikins has been creating and publishing poetry and art since age 14. “I have won awards in both writing and art and published several books, including my first YA novel. I designed the cover art for all my releases.” Her books include The Complete Tales from the Edge of the Woods (2013), God Considered the Horizon (2014), Transplanted (2013), and Jones Road Chronicles (2012). 
Read more at rachaelikins.com

Artist Scott Bennett lives and works in Jamesville, NY. “My “Tree Portraits” came about as a natural outgrowth of my landscape painting. I love being in the woods, and in natural places in general, and would regularly find myself standing in front of trees, looking hard at the texture and color of the bark, the wonderful shape, and telling myself that I should paint ‘that’:  The tree, and that feeling, up close. See more of his work at scottbennettart.com

Applewood Smells Sweet when Burning
For Scott 

With palette knife and tools you capture;
hot-spring-sun, after-school, racing for 
my apple tree
in Keds and shorts.

Your hands/paint sculpted broken/ 
healed elbow of branch that beckoned this child,
where my father built me a picnic/reading platform.
I lugged boxes of Scholastic books to savor
on my belly among blossoms.

Leaves unfurled, grapevines' drape
like a lavish hairnet, or living tent. 
Secrets hidden, bird nests, sour fruit, hard apples,
pears and the scent of wildness-on-wind.

Barefeet clambered high, outside, to reach for clouds.
Tin-can phone strung to Seckel pears by the fence.
Coded messages, invisible inks, left in a basket poked
into trunk's lowest knothole.
Astride a branch 3 levels higher,
I read my mail. 

Rope-swing dangled over packed-earth floor.
When I threw my head back, it looked like crazy-quilt, sun
sheen, green stained glass, abstract patterns 
and mystery chased my face, I swung up and away.

Year I turned 12, freak June tornado
sucked that apple tree from earth, roots and all.
Men sawed the broken branches for fireplace wood,
hauled away. My mother made a flower bed.

No matter what currant bushes or blackberries grew
I averted my eyes from the black iron planter
filled with marigolds on the old apple stump.
A cemetery, make no mistake.

Did you play there with me long ago,
and I've just forgotten?
Maybe friends with the boy across the street? 
How do you know my tree? I still hear gush,
rain shrieking through second floor south 
window during my mother's card party.
A cataract burst down the stairway, 
big adventure
to a child

until we discovered the victim.

A day far from childhood and magic, 
I open my email and social networking sites to find 
my tree, that stillness/sun and possibility;
afternoon, home from school, life begun.
You must have played there with me long ago.
You must have loved an apple tree, too.

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