To Exalt Essence Over Form

by Jerry Willis

I am one who believes
there is no choice about incarnation.
Inexplicably your soul was delivered
into this corporeal frame, with its organs,
tendons, ligaments and bones,
its network of one billion cells,
the blood coursing to and fro along
the most intricate and minuscule paths. I
do not discount either your more beguiling
features, detectable by the unaided senses,

like the thumping tail and spindly legs,
the dripping tongue that droops when you are
fagged, a sweet musk embodied
in your coat of every season,
importunate eyes perched above
perfect black lips, or sharp white teeth
equally suited for gnawing and baring. But,
notably, the temporal frame cannot account
for those companionable qualities
that abet my salvation and incite me to

worldly mirth. Conceded, the choice is not ours,
but if your essence were to inform, say,
a tree, then a stout tree it would be,
a doughty defender of creatures
huddled beneath. Its loyalty
to earth and sky would never wane,
and pure pollen of joy would rain down
from its branches onto flora and fauna
thriving within its shade. Surely I would wrap
my arms around your trunk and kiss your raspy bark.

Jerry Willis lives in Rutherfordton, where he has practiced law for the past twenty-seven years. Poetry is one of his fondest avocations, both reading it and writing it.

About To Exalt Essence Over Form—This poem combines two of my favorite archetypes: trees and dogs.