Christopher J. Jarmick

Not about the Redwood




And so the magnificent bright white clouds forming shapes of

disintegrating mountains and imagined giant snowmen, dragons and

cotton balls in magnificent contrast to the light blue

of a northwest sky are smothered too soon

by the darkening advance of bulging rain clouds.


It happens quickly and with regularity six months of the year.

Bright light to filtered half-light to a cool grey that dims.

And the refreshing breeze picks up as the temperature drops 5

then 10 or more degrees and increasing gusts of chilling winds

announce the coming rain.


It speaks to poets of souring relations,

the end of courtship, the burden of harder, harsher times,

the end of care-free romance, of glowing youthful optimism,

and the beginning of the burden of responsibility

necessitating strict discipline, thoughtful use of every moment

of available time and attention to minute details.

It speaks of change as if to remind us everything changes.


The more rebellious protest, clench their jaws and pretend

they will change little and persevere through the storms

until the clouds pass and blue sky and sun reappear.

This futile resistance to the acceptance of change creates anxiety,

depression, until one has the epiphany that a valuable lesson

is being taught. We should remain open enough to learn new things.


Water flows downstream.

We are mostly water.

When paths are blocked we still must flow.

Pretending we do not have flow is not an option.

Believing we defy gravity and can flow up to build momentum

and crash through whatever is in our way, never works out well for us.

We can only stand moderate resistance.





We can conquer.  We can climb the highest mountains,

but we must return.

We are agile, we are flexible but we are not Redwood trees.

The Redwood tree can resist and defy for hundreds of years.

They have strong earthbound spirits.

They build an underground network that protects, feeds

and warns all who accept Redwood.

They aggressively push, stand tall, hold their place.

Few of us stay in one place very long.

We have learned how to destroy the Redwoods that are in our way. Later,

we learned they too were trying to teach.

Destroying what is in our way is a temporary solution.

Better to adapt, be flexible.

Our enemy is not the Redwood.

Our enemy is within.


And so is our salvation if we embrace

the spiritual and allow ourselves forgiveness and grace.

Those with faith believe they possess a little light

on the dark path to redemption; others insist

if they do enough good work it will balance the bad.

This means change is a necessary part of the cycle

and our resistance to accepting this

or doubting how important change is – dooms us.


Pretending to know everything that needs to be known

while believing you have most of the answers you need only means

you have learned how to live in the prison you have built for yourself.

It seems secure and manageable and is easy to get used to.

Deny it is a prison because it has windows and locks

on the door that you can control,

but realize resistance for resistance sake

doesn’t make you safer, merely foolish.

You have retreated from learning and understanding

to becoming less aware than a newborn child.


Some overcompensate and become addicted to change

for change’s sake minimizing their own responsibility toward all things

since change happens, change is inevitable, resistance is futile.

Go have a conversation with the Redwood about change.

You’ll likely find you don’t speak Redwood.

Remember we are mostly water.


I don’t know what I don’t know,

but I know I must be open to learning and experience

even if it only makes me aware I know less.

Scary sometimes, but when we feel fear and try to understand,

we wind up paying closer attention to everything

and it sometimes motivates us to change ourselves.

Faith is not stubborn.

Better to question with an intent to learn,

then to stop asking for better understanding.

Christopher J. Jarmick is a Seattle Area writer and a former Los Angeles TV producer who has curated and hosted monthly poetry readings and special events since 2001.  Last year he became the co-owner of BookTree, Kirkland, Washington’s only new and gently-used independent bookstore. His latest poetry collection, Not Aloud (2015) is available from MoonPath Press.