If the Soul Is Nothing

J. Scott Brownlee

Live oaks grow out of it.  Live oaks reach
     with their roots the quartz caves of rivers
where their salvation is.  Live oaks love
     Texas weather, adapting to both drought
& flood conditions.  Live oaks grow alone well.
     Live oaks teach in the breeze, if you listen
closely, sermons not on mountains.  Live oaks
     raised the drowned boy down the street
from the dead & spoke to my father before
     he had language.  Live oaks lifted him up
into waiting branches but did not convert him.
     Live oaks whispered, The body is mostly nothing.
  Live oaks told him, The soul, it follows, is nothing.
     Live oaks gave him their last secret more cryptically.
 Live oaks buried it deep in the bedrock of him
     & refused to tell me until heart surgery
when his body was not his own: full to bursting
     with a clear, blue water.  They said, Body & soul, 
finally, are nothing, & live oaks are nothing, &
     dying is nothing.  They meant, Kiss your father.