Poetry

Arboretum

By Brennon Land

(2020)

Roots stay shallow

In earth poisoned

By blood

Mingled with the iron

And the lead

And the hate

That put it there

Roots stay shallow

In earth salted

By sweat and tears

Savagely distilled

From ‘savage’ bodies

Stolen and displaced

To lands stolen

In the name of God

The Civilized

Whose mercy blesses

Pilgrims

Evangelists

Intrepid Settlers

Slaying old gods

And their children alike

Roots stay shallow

In earth glutted

On strange fruits

Stolen and scorned

By the same hands

That left bruises

Easily hidden

Beneath dark skin

So that eyes

Blind to color

See no injury

And mouths that feed

From broken flesh

Teeth freshly stained

Claim that the trees

Are clearly to blame

And the damaged fruit

Fair penance

Roots stay shallow

Yet the forest still grows

On tangled roots

That reach outward

To anchor saplings

And push them

Upward despite gravity

Even as trees fall

Old and young

And the forest trembles

With their dying cries’

I can’t breathe’

These shallow roots

Blanket the earth

And send new shoots

Outward, upward

Endlessly creating

From poisoned earth

Fresh air

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