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Aatma: When A Great Tree Falls

(Inspired by When a Great Tree Falls by Maya Angelou)

18”X 36”

Acrylic and Rose Gold Leaf on Canvas


Aatma is soul.


Lately, I am fascinated by the idea of our microbiome. The fact that forests talk. They nurture, they support life, they make choices. Underneath our feet, when a great tree falls, it sends nutrients to support new life. All these animals and plants and classification-defying mushrooms connect to each other, take care of each other. Here is a forest exchanging data, charges, electrons, working as a network. Like our brains, but bigger. It makes me wonder why human beings think of ourselves as sitting atop some hierarchy of consciousness.  Here is a forest exchanging data, charges, electrons, working as a network. Like our brains, but bigger.


Matter is forever. Matter never stops being, it just transforms. So what then is loss, what is the cessation of existence?Beyond all of the conversations about consciousness and the soul, isn’t it marvelous that on the barestmolecular level existence is forever.  I find peace in that.

(For Deena)


When a Great Tree Falls

by Maya Angelou


When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
gnaws on kind words
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed



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