When I saw the figure on the crown of the hill,
high above the city, standing perfectly still
against a sky so saturated with the late-
afternoon, late-summer Pacific light
that granules of it seemed to have come out
of solution, like a fine precipitate
of crystals hanging in the brightened air,
I thought whoever it was standing up there
must be experiencing some heightened state
of being, or thinking—or its opposite,
thoughtlessly enraptured by the view.
Or maybe, looking again, it was a statue
of Jesus or a saint, placed there to bestow
a ceaseless blessing on the city below.
Only after a good five minutes did I see
that the figure was actually a tree—
some kind of cypress, probably, or cedar.
I was both amused and let down by my error.
Not only had I made the tree a person,
but I’d also given it a vision,
which seemed to linger in the light-charged air
around the tree’s green flame, then disappear.
~Jeffrey Harrison, “The Figure on the Hill” from Into Daylight.
A tree on our hill broods over us
through the decades,
day and night,
standing firm through sunrises and sunsets,
snow and wind and rain and blistering sun.
It isn’t mistaken for a person or statue
yet stands in steadfast silence
amid the ever-changing backdrop
and drama of uncertain times.
May these ceaseless blessings ever flow,
of a Love that hung
from the limbs of a tree on the hill.