Poem: Those Who Plant


Those Who Plant

You stand at the edge, aware of the artistry
of straight lines, perfectly planted,
green and rising, seagrass in the dunes,
someone’s attempt, someone’s hard work
to recreate what storms and the reckless disregard
of tourists has destroyed.

Another season or two, the lines will not be
nearly as perfect. Some of the tufts
will have died. Some will have grown madly.
If we are lucky, seedlings will sprout
and the tourists will have been more careful
this time around, gentler to the landscape
they barely noticed before.  It will become
wilder and more true.

Yes, you are aware of the artistry.
You have rebuilt yourself more than once
from the slings of tourists and antagonists,
of life’s zombies and those who never even noticed
where they stepped or why,
some unaware what they trampled,
others, the worst, utterly unaware and uncaring.
You know the work of resurrection takes time.

You will come back here in the off season.
You will be careful with your feet, careful
to avoid harm. You are a tourist
of a different sort, one who wears footsteps
like scars, a pilgrim now, grateful for the grace
of those who plant, season after season.

About this poem.

The picture was taken just outside Provincetown, Mass., but it could be here in Vermont with its rows of corn rising each season. In fact, it was the corn fields this morning, tall, tasseling as I drove to my favorite diner that inspired the poem. It’s just that this picture of the newly planted seagrass was more vivid.

I used to think that when people came through tough stuff and came out on the other side, that the wreckage was behind them. The truth is, pain never leaves. It dulls. It becomes less of what drives us. But you never forget and part of us still reacts to it.

But, when we do the work, when the people around us love us back to health and wholeness, we bear new fruit. Restoration is work, fueled by grace.

Be well. Travel wisely,


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