075.1: Charlotte Pence:: from The Branches, the Axe, the Missing
29 August 2011
In these four poetic vignettes by Charlotte Pence, wood is offered as man's origin story, as a fact of biological anthropology, as a personal anecdote, and as an analogue to a Greek myth. Wood becomes a generative metaphor that we watch create life, self-awareness, civilization, beauty, understanding, change, and loss: "Around wood, around fire, we began." Pence realizes as she analyzes the various changes surrounding wood that "w/ everything gained, there is loss," watching wood consumed as fire and trees cut in preparation for a winter storm. As Pence meditates on what was lost, one might consider the leveled forests documented by W.G. Sebald in Rings of Saturn, or the razing of the Amazon where the lands of uncontacted tribes is becoming continually encroached upon. One might think of Robert Frost's "Birches" and wonder if that memory, that experience, will continue to become more foreign to succeeding generations as we continue to use the earth as a raw resource for consumption, or consider it as mere decoration of a properly manicured lawn. And with these overwhelming thoughts, one might be tempted to, like the little girl, "[stop] moving, let the tree hide her" hoping that though the branches might fall, though both humanity and ecology might change, somehow the tree will still be there to comfort us, whatever we become.