Unchopping a Tree (Hardcover)
There's no mystery to chopping down a tree. But how do you put back together a tree that's been felled? Mystical instructions are required, and that's what W. S. Merwin provides in his prose piece "Unchopping a Tree," appearing for the first time in a self-contained volume. Written with a poet's grace, an ecologist's insights, and a Buddhist's reverence for life, this elegant work describes the difficult, sacred job of reconstructing a tree. Step by step, page by page, with Merwin's humble authority, secrets are revealed, and the destroyed tree rises from the forest floor. Unchopping a Tree opens with simplicity and grace: "Start with the leaves, the small twigs, and the nest that have been shaken, ripped, or broken off by the fall; these must be gathered and attached once again to their respective places." W. S. Merwin, like many conservationists, is quick to say: "When we destroy the so-called natural world around us we're simply destroying ourselves. And I think it's irreversible." Thus the tree takes on a scale that begs the reader's compassion, and one tree is a parable for the restoration of all nature.
Liz Ward is a professor of art and art history at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, and an artist who works primarily in painting and drawing with an emphasis on works on paper. She received her M.F.A. in painting from the University of Houston and her B.F.A. in printmaking from the University of New Mexico. The art included in W. S. Merwin's Unchopping a Tree is from her series The Cellular Life of a Tree. She lives in Castroville, Texas.