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May 01st 2008 print

Pascale Petit

The University among the Redwoods, Santa Cruz

They’re up there—the students, in their high halls,
sleeping among the redwoods, in the university of leaves.

The sky is a blue-bound volume of flickering
white pages they wake to—a morning mist

of evaporating inks. All night, a black bible
big as the universe writes star-scriptures.

The sequoias are illuminated manuscripts
through which to glimpse stories of our sun.

Their branches hum as tree-scholars take the morning
staircase down. On every floor they pass

another library of light, upper storeys where birds
sing hosannas, the hymn of canopy cascades,

sky-pools for the clouded salamander, the great
hanging gardens of the treetops. As the students

descend, they become heavier, they stumble
down the steps, for they have come to the middle region

where needles start to hiss as the breezes hush,
the zone of knotholes where stars have nested

in the night-tree’s swaying mast. To the lower trunk
where scrolls are ash in smouldering fire-caves.

They crawl past zones of silence, those sawn-
through stadium-stumps, and they go to class.

Pascale Petit