, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Image: Wikimedia Commons. USA Forest and Agriculture Department



Christ died on an aspen cross, woodmen thought.

Maybe that’s why, on slight provocation,

I quake and all my cordate leaves shiver,

so that I am known as ‘The Trembling Giant,’

aka Populus tremuloides.

Before men walked out of Africa and

when glaciers were scouring the planet,

I, Pando, was like a subterranean god –

not Pluto, but Pando, meaning ‘I spread.’

After flames have incinerated me,

my dormant rhizome will regenerate,

like resurgence of an old religion.

In times of trial, I just go underground;

in ideal circumstances, I can host

bryophytes; nurture lepidoptera.

I have the root of the matter in me,

but I share my vulnerability

with my multiple ramets – all my clones.

I haven’t flowered for ten thousand years,

in spite of a rigorous self-pruning.

See where black scars mutilate my white bark.

Invasive lodge pole pine may steal my light

and pocket gophers gnaw my root system,

but I sprout from this volcanic soil.

What I lack in diversity,

I’ll exchange for durability, for

we suckers just plan to stay together,

even when a highway runs right through us.

Master of the art of adaptation,

I will survive when all else is ashen.