To get a feel for the poetry and art of Marietta Patricia Leis, you can read the last words in this understated book: “My deepest apologies and gratitude to the trees that enabled the printing of this book. Plant a tree.”
It is in those words that one can begin to understand the deep roots of the writer’s admiration and love for nature and everything that grows in that realm.
In one installation of hers I visited a couple of years ago, she placed sections of a tree trunks juxtaposed with canvases of varying shades of green and blue. Every inch of her work is infused with her spirit and her concern for the future of those same trees.
Oh majestic tree
how safe I feel
hugging your stable trunk
Although you tower over me
you protect my soul
Leis uses subtleties to paint a picture of how close we are to destroying the very thing that supports humanity. Nature offers us food, shelter, and protection, yet asks nothing in return.
Do trees cry when wounded
with man’s cut?
Is a clear cut forest
a Greek chorus?
A mournful weight for
Earth to endure
In the opening text of the book, Editor Ann Landi writes that in “Engrained,” “There are reminders of how much pleasure we get from the colors, textures, and presence of those mute and stalwart citizens who share our planet.”
At first glance as I turned the pages of “Engrained,” I began to realize there was an immediate spareness to the writing and the art contained therein. Only a few full-page images jump out at you with the urgency of their color, perhaps as a not-so-subtle reminder that while there are those who turn a cheek, we need to look quick and deep before these colors are no more; before these natural cathedrals that shelter and sustain us are no more.
As I write this, I am in deep thought of what to write next, much like I was during my second reading; not at a loss for words but, rather, at a loss for the portrait Leis has painted of a future that is no longer “in the future.” It is now. It is happening under our feet and out the kitchen window. We can view that future everywhere we walk or drive or fly.
I know that when I walk in the landscape, I feel the strength of the trees and the passion in their growth and desire to live “forever.” I turn over all thought of my challenges and welcome the support of all that has been here before and all that will still be here long after we are no longer useful to this planet.
Take a few moments and walk in the verdant landscape of Marietta Patricia Leis (who is an “outed tree hugger”) and become part of that family. You will be better for the effort.
After I finished reading the book, I had an immediate thought that I need to take “Engrained” to its home and read the book once more time while sitting against a tree.
More of a meditation and a thought process the poetry and images collectively strike a chord deep within my soul and illustrate how, even today, a singular person can have a voice for change.