Message at Dawn

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Arella Tomlinson

24 x 30 inches

Oil Painting, Gallery Wrapped Canvas

Out on a walk this morning, after a starry night, 

You stop before its underpass, bending an ear.
Here…an old bristlecone pine! 


Its ancient feral bark, contrasting with the snow, 

Branches bursting forth aglow, 

Rusty-colored and waxing -

It has something of substance to convey.

Its limbs outstretched,

Its rinds peeling,

Like pictograms moving past,

Whispered messages are signing so fast

They barely convey their inscriptions.

It has you listening.

It brings a tear to see this bark,
that should be rasping, instead whistling sweetly,

that should be brittle, undulating so spritely. 

Like a torched scroll that never blackens, 

Raised high, 

Then rolled open to reveal a mystery script,

Which begs translation, akin to a forgotten mother tongue,

This ancient refrain that sparks a memory

And you find yourself mouthing.

Not just a tree on a walk,

But a message

Of the dawn. 


This oil painting on canvas, ‘Message at Dawn’ was inspired by a photo of a Bristlecone Pine tree by Galen Rowell and also by the story of Moses hearing a message from God from a burning bush. The Bible verses from Exodus are written and showing through the snow from the under layer of the painting. The painting and the poem above were my way to explore the mystery of what it would be like to encounter an ancient fiery tree, and what message it might hold for myself, its viewers, and its collector.

The painting is continued on the sides of the 1.5 inch gallery wrapped canvas. It comes ready to hang with picture wire attached, is varnished, signed by the artist on the front and back, and with a certificate of authenticity. It comes framed in a gorgeous duo-tone textured wood frame which exactly matches the wood of the tree. 

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