I Could Give All to Time
To Time it never seems that he is brave
To set himself against the peaks of snow
To lay them level with the running wave,
Nor is he overjoyed when they lie low,
But only grave, contemplative and grave.
What now is inland shall be ocean isle,
Then eddies playing round a sunken reef
Like the curl at the corner of a smile;
And I could share Time's lack of joy or grief
At such a planetary change of style.
I could give all to Time except-- except
What I myself have held. But why declare
The things forbidden that while the Customs slept
I have crossed to Safety with? For I am There,
And what I would not part with I have kept.
This page is dedicated to my dear cousin, David Hyde LaMotte, and the "tree deck" he built on the branches of a Willow Oak that had fallen over Philips Creek, along the shoreline of David's beautiful home, an 18th century stone farmhouse called "Clark's Conveniency," on Quaker Neck, near Chestertown, on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The tree deck, constructed during the time of plague in 2020-21, was a retreat, a meditation spot, a reading room, a blind from which to watch the waterfowl on the creek, and the perfect place for a wee dram of whiskey and a good cigar.
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Alas, with the shifting tides and the passing seasons, the willow oak settled and rolled in its long sleep, gradually warping the deck and rendering it uninhabitable. But in its acquiescence to the arrow of time, that deck has become a perfect emblem of Frost's observation that "strongly spent is synonymous with kept."
To have envisioned what the fallen tree offered, to have lovingly devoted the time and craft to substantiate that vision in a solid platform, and to have spent even one moment, let alone several seasons, sitting there, looking out over the creek or back at that beautiful homestead, is to have crossed to Safety, and not even Time can take away the loving labor that created the tree deck or the love of place that it embodies, even in its decay.
Looking back at Clark's Conveniency from the Tree Deck