the rhododendron root













the rhododendron root   (for Charlotte Joko Beck, Sensei)

In a thicket of memory,

I set to digging up

a dead rhododendron root.

My hand spade, fearlessly committed, shredded the vestiges;

sailing through the toughest scar tissue, the ponderances,  to the heart of the root system.


I seize the foundation, the masted core, grasp, heave, retrieve the hull!

Drag the entire marriage of dirt and sediment out into the light,

douse it in a baptism of water, dredge and scour the barnacled bottom!


This must be

the oldest tree

in the universe.


Now, wet and clean and drying in the sun,

its plundered parts strewn and showed;

a labyrinth of warm brown hair, a dragon’s baggage of years.

Yielding, though its fire’s dispersed,

the timber to continue ballast and steam.



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