Cathedrals of Humboldt County – a poem by V.A. Bettencourt

Cathedrals of Humboldt County					

Fog and sunlight dapple through my limbs, a
breeze brushes my needles, sprinkling dew on the
understory - moss, fox gloves, ferns, wood sorrel,
columbia lilies, golden waxy caps, hypochnella’s 
violet blooms - all brimming in expectant repose. You 
call me coastal redwood, or sequoia sempervirens.  

Ever. Lasting. My taxonomy tells a tale rooted in a
symbiotic mesh of mycorrhizae that 
interlace us, our understory, Douglas Fir, 
hemlock, maple and madrone cousins. Intertwined, 
we stand in gullies and valleys and withstand 
fires and gales. Spotted owls, bears, banana slugs 
flourish in our web. We thrive on reciprocity, 
and know taking without giving depletes all. 

My concentric rings, weaved over fifteen hundred years, 
bore witness to countless stories of nurture, healing, 
heartbreak, siege, each scored into my core. The
dreams and aches you bore when seeking 
respite and replenishment resound through my canopy. 

Those who seek learn that lessons 
etched into my spirals rival those of your 
finest scrolls.  I know fulfillment springs from 
solidarity, prosperity blossoms from 
balance, and listening widens the 
aperture of seeing,
seeding understanding. 

V. A. Bettencourt is a Brazilian-American poet and writer who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She received a B.A. from Brown University, graduate degree from Boston College, and is refining her craft at Philip Schultz’s The Writers’ Studio. Ms. Bettencourt’s work is inspired by our wondrous natural world and variegated human emotions and has appeared in The American Journal of Poetry.

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