Poem: The Power of Roots

The Power of Roots

The roof long ago caved in.
You can see the rotten remnants of beams down below.
The marble walls have begun to fall.
There is no glass in the windows.

It takes imagination to see it as it was,
this factory made of marble, to imagine
it whole and bustling, dust of commerce in the air,
Noisy and vibrant, a thing alive.

Now, it is surrounded by forest. Trees grow
in what was once the factory floor,
tall birches with marble white bark.
Wild grapes curl over rusted machines.

Such places are inspiration.
Tombs now, a sanctuary to surrender,
they somehow both call to me
and challenge me.

I am not yet ready for the tomb.
The time will come, but not without the work of living.
The maintenance and rebuilding of old things runs deep,
in your body, your soul, your heart.

There are things left to do.

In another generation, it will be rubble, this factory.
I will be dust and memory.
That is not a morbid thing. It is simply fact. I will be dust.
But not yet. Today I am a rhododendron in the forest,

roots deep, waiting for May,
for another season to bloom,
knarly, tough and weathered, fertilized
for one more season of color,

and whether it is the last season or not.
It will be bright in the shadows,
color in the forest, a reminder to all who see,
of the power of roots.

About this poem

My roots run deep. I have learned how deep the past decade and a half. Faith beyond fear from my mother. Stubbornness from my father. A steadiness from my grandfather. And love from my family, most of all, from the woman I love.

They serve me well those roots. As I finish up my cancer treatments in the next couple of weeks or so, I am thankful, yet again, at how well.

The picture was taken near Shushan, NY.


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