General Poems and Prose Poems

Life at the Roots (2017 Version)

Recorded by Sean McDermott at Offaly Road Studio, 2022. Read by the author.

One fall day,

a logical gully

guides me down the slope to Highland Creek.

My steps disturb a creature

who escapes under the cover of leaves,

defining a ribbon of movement

that lifts the rustling shelter as it flees.

With anonymous grace,

the animal testifies to life unseen but more real than this poem,

fusing threads of instinct without pause.

One summer day,

I cycle home from the college on Ashtonbee Road,

thoughts distracted from the simple path

that curves by the banks of Taylor Massey Creek.

I pass a tall gathering of yellow grasses

that erupts with red winged blackbirds.

They fly straight up from the reeds,

rising in a startled mass of flapping.

Like verses that nest unknown within us,

it takes a sudden whoosh of wheels or wings

to show life at its roots, a wild relentless freshness

that we cage with fear.

One spring morning,

dark green shoots

grow from my breasts, pushing up, pushing out.

Cautiously, I tug a shoot from my left aureole

and a curly leaf unfurls in my hand.

I tug more leaves and yet more leaves,

shocked by the secret depth of my roots.

Raw soil spills over my fingers,

and one last strong yank

yields a golden onion.

My vegetable offering

hints at the body’s food, the push of streams,

breath of reeds, and the resilient moss veiled by fallen leaves.

I believe in succulent roots

that answer winter prayers of the famished

who trace patterns of desire on the waiting Earth.

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