At the Center for Religion and Environment’s first retreat for the creative arts we spent time contemplating nature for inspiration. After a couple encounters with a plant and a stream I decided to stretch a bit and tried my hand at some blank verse. Here is the result, with a bit of explanation preceding each poem.
Bear corn is a non-photosynthesizing parasitic plant (see the above photo) that draws its nutrients from the roots of oak trees. Bears supposedly eat this plant when they come out of hibernation to clear their intestines that have clogged up from disuse over the winter months. Biologists report that they obtain sixteen percent of their annual energy intake from this plant.
They call me bear corn.
One who feeds on others’ roots, who does not feed himself.
Drab and brown, emerging from the forest’s dead leaves,
few notice me as they pass by.
Some think ill of me,
judging that I only take and reap where I did not sow.
Yet, by drawing upon others’ strength I give life,
cleansing from the fruit of their inaction
those who consume my offering.
So, do not dismiss me for my color but consider instead:
If one does not give life, who then is the parasite?
Watching the water swirl down at the creek, I noticed a swath of small bubbles resting on the edge of the water. Wondering where they came from I saw that, when smaller bubbles ran into the quarter-sized bubbles kicked up by the miniature waterfall a couple feet away, they burst, forming tiny bubbles quickly encircling the larger one. When the larger bubble finally burst, it left a flotilla of small bubbles, some of which must have made it to the safety of the side of the creek.
Long-lined water, mossy falls of molten glass,
the brook sings
in barely heard bass and multi-trebled choirs.
Ephemeral bubbles float o’er their seas,
graced all about by their many small children,
fruit of past meetings.
Soon only bubblets,
these fish eggs come to rest at water’s edge.
I, a mere bubble in time,
am also the offspring of past encounters.
When at last I burst and come to rest on the shore,
will I, too, have left behind my story
in the bubbles of those I met?