I was untangling a ribbon that held a poem to the Poem Tree on Passyunk, feeling a little sad... when she asked me what I thought I was doing.
--Why, grooming you, Poem Tree! I said.
--But why, she said. & why are you wearing can tabs? And putting can tabs on me. Don't you know that I'm a tree & I dress myself in leaves?
--But you are dead, little Poem Tree, and your leaves are brown & brittle, though it's still summer, and you will never grow leaves again... and because it gives me pleasure, I said. Because it gives me pleasure
--Yes but, why? What is the Message? What does it MEAN?
--Isn't pleasure message enough?
--No, she said What else is it that you want, that makes you do this? Be honest! I'm not one of your kind--you can't lie to me. You can't hide what lies in your hidden heart. You know well enough how this makes you look.
--Like what? I said.
--Oh come on, you know perfectly well what I mean. You don't do this JUST for pleasure. Why do you want to look... I don't know, weird? (and this across the street from dozens of young multi-tatooed and pierced hipsters at Los Caballitos). So tell me now, what message do you think this gives to other people?
--I don't have any way of knowing that, do I? Until they stop & talk with me.
--But isn't there something you would WANT them to think? she said.Want them to know about you?
--Okay, I said... Okay... I give up! (thinking I'd make something up to make her happy) ...that they don't OWN me, how does that sound?
--Sounds good, she said. Go on.
-- & the bankers don't OWN me, & the people who tell others what to do & what NOT to do, THEY don't OWN me (& to tell the truth, I was beginning to feel better, saying this. Like something was there that had wanted out... ) & that NOBODY OWNS anyone ... or any Thing. That ALL the TOTALIZING systems--be they Capitalism or rigid Marxism or any religion whatsoever--are CHAINS of OWNING...
--Yes, she said. And what is it then that you want?
--I want to live like the things I find! I said ... Found Things lost, and Found but no longer OWNED. Growing old, you know... I feel like that myself...that I've been losing myself little by little, and I pick up can tabs & gifts people give me because what they see gives THEM pleasure, and little by little, diminished by age, as I grow smaller and weaker as by nature I must... that when I become nothing, and you & I have lost all our leaves & our limbs are naked & dry as bones... that there will be nothing lost... because I will be just another Found Thing... and Found Things cannot be lost...
& Poem Tree grew quiet, but for the soft rustling of the ribbons & poems dangling from her branches. & I thanked her, for helping me to better understand... as she always does. & she seemed happy too... cause she knows I love her.