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Episode 149 Epistemology - Catherine Barnett


Connor and Jack discuss Catherine Barnett's beautiful poem "Epistemology." Fittingly for the season of solstice logs, Hannukah bushes, and Christmas trees, this poem - which contemplates the nature of knowing - name checks "The Secret Life of Trees" and considers the aliveness of our arboreal friends.

Learn more about Catherine Barnett, here.

Read the poem, here (or below).

Epistemology By: Catherine Barnett

Mostly I’d like to feel a little less, know a little more.
Knots are on the top of my list of what I want to know.
Who was it who taught me to burn the end of the cord
to keep it from fraying?
Not the man who called my life a debacle,
a word whose sound I love.
In a debacle things are unleashed.
Roots of words are like knots I think when I read the dictionary.
I read other books, sure. Recently I learned how trees communicate,
the way they send sugar through their roots to the trees that are ailing.
They don’t use words, but they can be said to love.
They might lean in one direction to leave a little extra light for another tree.
And I admire the way they grow right through fences, nothing
stops them, it’s called inosculation: to unite by openings, to connect
or join so as to become or make continuous, from osculare,
to provide with a mouth, from osculum, little mouth.
Sometimes when I’m alone I go outside with my big little mouth
and speak to the trees as if I were a birch among birches.

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