Hiking down November snow,
we saw the first one still below us,
mounding up like a juniper
in the Shasta fir and the sugar pine.
Soon the trail entered its presence
(with Thanksgiving a day behind),
the trunk rising in dusky red, in fluted columns
strangely soft to our curious touch.
The first branches began at the tops
of other trees and continued into familiar wonder,
older perhaps than the Incarnation,
and longer rooted, and while they are here,
shedding for us new mercy of cones
flung green and small on the white of our steps.
We girdled the trunk with open arms,
unable to circumference it, much less
to find its center. In our random cries,
in the things we said to our wandering children,
I heard proclamation of peace on earth,
a wooden promise kept fresh for millennia,
the inaudible sound of a secret
seed in the South Sierra where eagles
nest in the falling snow.