The Inner Grain

There is a natural grain in the wood.
That grain hides behind the coarse, outer bark.
It guides the growth of the sturdy trunk 
from the time when that trunk is just a shoot.
The grain twists & turns as the tree lives, leaves die, 
and nature transforms.

The grain becomes hidden deep within the tree’s outer shell.
The grain is overlooked by spectators who aww at the
Forever changing leaves, constantly growing twigs, and encompassing height
The tree brings as it looms over the earth resting beneath its boughs.

Humans gasp at gigantic trunks.
Families bask in the shade of overhanging limbs.
Artists paint the leaves’ tapestry of the Fall.
Yet, that inner grain provides strength, steadiness, and direction 
never recognized.

Still that grain is deep. That grain is forever growing.
The grain fuels the tree’s mighty strength from within.
Few will ever note the beauty or significance of the grain.
But it is there.

Those who witness the beauty of the grain,
Only see that muted canvas once the tree 
has breathed in and exhaled a final season change.
The grain’s value is not realized until the tree has been cut,
laid out upon its own bed of leaves and dried from the cracks within.

The stump and thickened limbs of the tree
Become fuel for the fire to help warm, callous hands.
But a few lucky wooden pieces are set apart by human nature,
By our insatiable need to find meaning and safety in the debris.

A few final wooden slabs are laid out to view the tree’s inner grain
The coarse bark, its hard exterior, is slowly sawed and sanded away
To lay that inner, hiding grain:
bare.

Those few pieces are again carefully transformed
Through the unforgiving motions of saw, sand, & stain.
The saved trunk, the smoothed slabs, the stained wood
Do not create the final beauty which is transported to our homes.

The inner grain which made that stump grow from a sapling to a maple
Is finally pulled forth and made visible:
The saw cuts through the outer shell.
The sanding removes the splinters and bark.

The inner grain, majestic from the start,
Absorbs that final stain.
In the end, that grain becomes a central fixture in a home,
Something noble, yet practical, like a stool, table, or door.

Friends aww at the beauty which was in the tree all along.
Spectators now assume the beauty in the furniture
Comes from the stain on the outside.
Just as humans who once basked in the tree’s shade never saw its core.

But the grain and its every-guiding beauty
Has been there in the tree all along,
Directing every growth, leaf, and seed,
Appearing only through the test of time and decay.

The beauty of the wood is not relegated to its shell.
The magnificence of the tree is not only in its vast, entangled limbs. 
The power of the tree shoots forth from its oh-so-small,
and vastly overlooked inner-grain.

The inner grain only comes to view for humans to realize
Through the hard trials of stress, friction, and death.
The grain we stain for households
Holds so much more than we can understand.

The inner grain fashions the cedar’s beauty,
Withstands all destruction,
And is appreciated by- needed by- all
But noticed by few.

--Written by Sandy Heights

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