Tree Sitting, Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal

Michael Diehl, Tree of Life


Tree Sitting

Tree sitting,
I was tree sitting,
with my back toward the sun,
I was wearing a green shirt, the color
of the leaves, camouflaged.
I needed no sword to defend myself.
I became a tree and stayed out of the fray.
Eventually, I would become a ghost.
They took the fight to me
and without a sword I could not fight back.
The days would end for Luis Cuauhtémoc.
The sun shined inside my eyes
and the rain washed out the blood.

Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal


Review by J.S. Absher

Though the context is different, this poem with its mysterious, almost mythic tree sitter reminds me of lines by George Herbert, in “The Affliction (1): I “wish I were a tree, / For sure then I should grow / To fruit or shade.” The speaker in neither poem can entirely escape the human condition. In “Tree Sitting,” the speaker becomes a ghost to the human world before dying, yet is still found, defenseless, and killed. A strength of the poem is its reticence on what the experience means.


Review by Jared Pearce

I spend a good amount of time in trees myself, and the way the speaker works through the images in this poem is wonderful: first in, then a part, then beyond (or, well, beyond in a way that we’re all going, even trees).  The poem has a nice straightforward motion and an economy of language that keeps it snappy.


Review by Dave Mehler

This poem is brief, and uses simple language, which is typical of this poet, but is also enigmatic. On first reading I thought the tree itself was the green shirt of the speaker’s. The second time through I realized it was simply camouflage–the poet is trying to blend in, as a survival mechanism. Also we are told the world is a very dangerous, violent place, and if only the speaker were better equipped he would have a sword to defend himself. Because he doesn’t he must hide in the tree above the fray (carrying on below?). The implication too is that even if he had one, he either wouldn’t want to use it or know how to? Somehow the fight was brought to him and if it hadn’t he would only remain there, sidelined eventually to become a ghost. The implication is: fight or hide and die? His back is to the sun, but the sun shines through or inside his eyes,  and the rain washed out the blood. So nature aids in this end and dissolution of Luis Cuauhtémoc. None of this is explained. It’s like a private little parable or fable the speaker tells himself, to help make sense of the world? The fact that I can’t retrace or think the thoughts of this poet is a big part of what makes it successful and remarkable. No one is going to guess or think the thoughts of Luis Cuauhtémoc–but we are given this poem and his name is in it to ensure we know it’s really him speaking and not a persona or figurative speaker merely? Like another poet (Ben Jeffery) that I reviewed in this issue he is an original. Originals may not know this or feel it, but they can’t help but leave a mark. They can’t help it because their view on the world is unique…this is what the best poems do in my opinion, either through language or vision, or both.



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