Earth-keeper poem

For the final Day of National Poetry Month, with thanks to Susie Morice, who encouraged poets to write of their favorite earth-keepers on yesterday’s #verselove at Ethical ELA. She suggested using a quote from an environmentalist to build the poem.

My quote is excerpted from a favorite novel:

“We found that trees could communicate, over the air and through their roots…We found that trees take care of each other…seeds remember the seasons of their childhood and set buds accordingly…trees sense the presence of other nearby life…a tree learns to save water…trees feed their young and synchronize their masts and bank resources and warn kin and send out signals to wasps to come and save them from attacks.” —Richard Powers, The Overstory

Understory Haiku
(for Granddaddy)

Once upon a time
my grandfather dug a well
in the earth he loved

he never said why
or who needed that water
maybe his neighbors

farm communities
did that; they worked together
for the common good

down deep in that hole
his shoveling uncovered 
a fully-formed tree

never saw the likes
he said, and I never asked
what became of it

but I imagine
it still lives, long after him
my understory

My grandfather, walking the land he loved most, his childhood farm. He told me where the house stood, and all the old barns…at the time of this photo, nothing remained but a wide field still in cultivation, bordered by trees. That’s my shadow at the bottom, taking his picture.

2 thoughts on “Earth-keeper poem

  1. Wow. That is an amazing find. I wonder about it. I also love the photo and wonder how he felt with the house and barns gone……I wrote a poem that gets at the loss of change in our lives. We go on I think, assuming everything is going to stay the same and of course it can’t and doesn’t. The wistfulness of this, the homage to trees in our lives and your granddaddy is beautiful and heartfelt, Fran. I hope you continue to share your poems. I want to challenge myself to write daily but my worry is that if I do put a poem online I need to figure out how much I would have to change to have someone be willing to publish it in a journal etc. I should ask. Your writing moves me and makes me think and remember.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Janet, that is a concern re: posting your work and then thinking of publication elsewhere. I note that in most competitions and publications, a poem or story posted anywhere online is considered published. Definitely something to think about – many thanks as always for your thoughts!


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