“Tree of Life” by Harriet Winograd
My cousin, the artist Harriet Winograd, a resident of West Hartford, Connecticut, created a lovely painting/collage entitled “Tree of Life,” from a picture that she had found in a religious calendar. Harriet’s piece of art was seen by the poet laureate of West Hartford, Christine Beck, who was inspired by it to write a poem she named “The Chaos of Creation.” Harriet and Christine are two highly talented and imaginative women who demonstrate to us the connectivity of the creative process.
“The Chaos of Creation” by Christine Beck
What if what I see, a tree,
familiar as my thumb,
is not as sturdy as it seems?
Underneath the tree where the roots should be,
A creature crouches, half-crocodile, hide mottled
With the scrunch of living underground
Stretched out like a lynx, it’s crouched,
like stalking prey, open-mouthed to pounce.
When it jumps, will the tree jump too?
On the trunk are words in another language.
Is that the key to meaning in this Tree of Life?
I track down the artist, ask why she planned
uncertainty in her creation. Turns out,
she’s as enigmatic as the creature.
She has no idea what it means. She found the picture
In a religious calendar. She doesn’t know the words,
Or why the creature called to her.
She chose it based on intuition,
Something healing, something sacred,
She didn’t need to wonder why.
I go to Wikipedia, I who always wonder why.
The beast is Tiamat, a sea dragon in a creation myth
From Mesopotamia. A world born of uncertainty,
Chaos, dragons, trees with roots that feast on blood.
Lurching like the tree through bloody roots,
I’m whirling on a planet that used to feel so solid, safe,
that seemed to hold me steady as an oak.