Palm at the End of the Mind

We don’t know where the end of the mind may be, nor if all or any minds may have such palms. We know that towards the end of his life Wallace Stevens wrote a poem called ‘Of Mere Being’ that spoke of such a palm.

The palm at the end of the mind,
Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze decor,
A gold-feathered bird
Sings in the palm, without human meaning,
Without human feeling, a foreign song.
You know then that it is not the reason
That makes us happy or unhappy.
The bird sings. Its feathers shine.
The palm stands on the edge of space.
The wind moves slowly in the branches.
The bird’s fire-fangled feathers dangle down.

As usual, this may be a very oblique way of introducing the subject of this post. Then again, it may not be. You shall judge.

In early 2004, after a very cold and difficult yet triumphant winter in Syracuse I had the pleasure of spending a few days in Santa Barbara. Palm trees abound there and of one I took home a seed. I was very surprised later that spring when it sprouted in a pot on my porch in Massachusetts. For nine years or so it fought the odds of being a houseplant, kind of throve, pictured below in 2013.

It was struggling against the pot that it lived in. The roots were more vigorous than circumstance permitted. That story is told here. Some accommodation was made in the form of Box 17.

The goal of any seed is to find a place to thrive, eventually to bear fruit. Circle of Life and all that. In 2019 the palm moved with life and journeyed to Maine in a blue plastic trash can and lived therein until this past (2022) winter when a great and primal accommodation was completed.

The special thing here being, unlike Box 17, that the earth is connected and continuous, that should the palm seek to grow roots all the way to China (as they used to say, as it was told to children (one being me) in the sandbox, that of course you could dig all the way to China, it would just take such a very long time and it would be dangerous and what if the hole caved in?!) that indeed such roots could be grown.

Now it would seem that a bird is called for, with golden fire-fangled feathers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *