Commiphora (2011)

PhotoBy Chris Deem (May 2011)

Like a portent of tragedy, its aged branches were spread like 1,000 arms thrust in the air. Shocking and stark, the tree was like a scream or a warning that came too late. Its leafless limbs, thick and few at first, branched upward and grew in numbers ever thinner.

It stood in ground of a dried blood color, and all around were the dormant and the dead. Not a sound. Not a stir. Only the shadows, and the foreboding grew darker, ever darker. Only the darkness can hide this stark sight, ghostly and blue, peeling and white, in its ground of dried blood in Somalia.

This is Commiphora holtziana. This is how I see it, and sometimes wonder, what do you see?

Commiphoras can be found in many places – Ethiopia, Yemen, Israel, Somalia, Arabia, even the sub-continent of India and Madagascar has species. As a group, most species are deciduous, and some have wicked spines.

These members of the Burseraceae family can in some way induce emotions tinged with mystery, poetry or even magic. There are people with very artistic natures that can see a commiphora as an elegant bonsai specimen.

The sight of a commiphora, for some, might bring to mind the memories of ancient spiritual beliefs. Others can only see bushes or trees. There is no right or wrong way to look at these plants. The way we choose to look will decide what we see.

I hope when you look, you can see magic, but only you can know what you see.