(For W.S. Merwin)
Our fate is that we wish to translate What divers plants upon this earth Have been struggling to divulge to us What they wish for us to decipher Before we undo the very foothold They have grown to offer us With every hazardous step we take From that first halting stumble As unruly children in some gorgeous garden To that desperate lunge we take As we grab for the last of the reachable rhizomes, Caudices, shoots or splayed-out roots As they loosen from the cliff face At the very ends of the island’s mass. We want to remember how exactly it is That we are joined in a cadence Few of our kind take time to hear For plants breathe in as we breathe out While we breathe in as plants breathe out Reminding us how we were born to behave In reciprocity with such luminous greenery Which scrambles up from the poorest, darkest ground As it reaches for light in the heavens. Perhaps our trouble has always been How we pretend that we began: Rootless, stuck up somewhere In abstract/vacant air While the vines themselves were beckoning Reaching up and urging us To anchor as firmly as they must surely do Securing any fertile ground Held between barren rock and salty splash--- Ground that we might find, not by sight As much as palpable touch or grace Instead of our incessant slipping, Skidding from the narrow trail Which opens up but then erodes Before our bleary eyes. The trees above us bear silent witness To each and every reckless act Of our careening, acts which leave us Further away from what was ours To never fully know.
– Gary Paul Nabhan