residual | part 6
roots like veins
Roots like veins:
How gently they reach first;
Then, not at all.
Suddenly they’re shoots that call
Unto the soil, the earth’s
Will not dissolve
Until you know what
They have done so for.
I know this rhythm
All too well:
I’ve listened to too long.
My garden was
A mess, my friend.
I woke up in July,
Realized all the green had died off;
Every vine, gone dry,
All those roots, so much like veins,
I knelt and wept, because
Not one had a tomorrow, and
I had nothing else left.
Was hollow; so bereft.
But when the sun
Had crested, and
The sweat smothered my skin,
Ruthless, I ransacked it all—
Reckless, I could begin
To unravel and to reckon and to unroot
Those parchment-thin remnants of
All that could never be.
Every page has filled up and
I repeat the words now.
Because I have met my shadow, because
I know now
That I was once the grasshopper, sleeping
Beneath the song
Of what seemed to be rifer days.
But that exoskeleton’s gone.
Now it is the crusted-over chaff left
For the birds.
And I’m starting over with these seeds;
All I have are my words.
More gardens. More roots. More of that old life cycle—sprouting growth, fading death, rebirth. Maybe it is the most obvious of metaphors but it works for me.
It’s one that my porch reflects well. Every spring since moving here I have planted literal seeds there in pickle buckets and aluminum bins: cauliflower, carrots, calendula, cherry tomatoes. Every year, they’ve started to get their roots beneath them before the heat and humidity or lack of space or shuddering shadows get to them.
When it comes to the more figurative seeds, it seems to be the same situation. Highly temporal, slow to get going, fading fast.
Perhaps it’s a lack of the right timing. Perhaps it’s not the proper environment or soil. Perhaps they need fertilizer, or compost, or some kind of herbal medicine.
Or perhaps I don’t really know what I’m doing.
But what I am finally starting to integrate is this: the act and the art of trying, those are the important parts. Process over product. That is wherein lies the beauty.
A simple lesson, to be sure, but maybe one to learn anew each morning.