Saturday, April 21, 2007

Dialogue for Cypress and Bromeliad

Sunday Scribbling's prompt this week: Rooted. Thanks to Gautami.


It was never meant to be. I was a mighty cypress, my roots sunk deep in the black swamp water, the black swamp earth. She... she was a bromeliad. Her roots were in air.

Spanish Moss, she calls herself. It's a fraud. She's neither moss (a truly rootless plant, one with no circulatory system whatsoever) nor Spanish. She's an American native, just like me. You'd think we'd have something in common, but no.

"Taste the earth," I'd say. "Terrific decomposition we're having this year." She was busy drinking rain and laughing at butterflies. I worried that there was too much salt in the bayou, whipped up by hurricanes off the Gulf; she rhapsodized about the vastness of the sky and the fantastic castles of thunderheads growing on the sea.

I'm an engineer by temperament. With me, it's all about getting water from the roots to the shoots. I obsess about osmotic balances, capillary pressure; I fiddle constantly with my spiracles to get the evapotranspiration just right. And there's more. My buttress roots alter water flow and capture soil. One good cypress like me can become the heart of an island, a piece of solid ground where there was just muck and water. Even when I fall someday, in water or on land, I'll be the substrate for other plants.

She? She's a poet.

I can't really blame her for having a frivolous outlook on life. After all, she doesn't have to work much to survive. I support her, I hold her a hundred feet above the ground. She lives on dew and the occasional dead insect. Who wouldn't be a little flighty, a little insubstantial?


eater of air and light
high, high among my lover's branches
i lie lightly on the earth
lightly in the sky.
i touch but little
take but little
dig no earth and drink no water
work no change on the living world.
but someday he will die
and i will fall
and with him lie
in the arms of the black swamp earth
in the arms of the black swamp water
and will it matter then
will it matter then
which of us
stood taller?

Visit the Sufi Poetry Carnival here on May 28th 2007.

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