The Roots and the River

Wide the river runs, muddy and slow down its lazy road,
Boats on the water with sails like white specks to eyes on the bank,
People on one side a dim blur to the other, almost a sea, not a river.
On each bank grows a tree, two living towers, birds in their branches,
Flowers on their limbs, the river in between with all its languid girth;
So distant those trees that the birds in the one
Chirp a different language than the birds in the other
And a child could climb one without ever knowing
The other was there.
Beneath
In the soil
Hidden from the sun
Roots of one tree pass beneath the waters
Under the leaves and the worms and the soil,
Fish swim and boats cruise over the roots, paying no attention,
The waters of the river flow along murkily, not knowing nor caring
That the roots pass underneath, all the way across, and from those roots
Like Athena from Jove’s brow, up from the soil and into the light
Emerges the mighty living trunk
Of the other tree,
With the barbarian birds,
And the foreign flowers,
And its own oblivious child,
And the child and the flowers and the birds and the river,
The fish and the boats and the mud and the sky,
None of them know what happens underground,
Only the trees
Themselves.

 

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