Roots - Poem by Herbert Nehrlich
I went to hospital that day and there passed out.
And dreamed to be a tree like a bonsai,
who firmly anchored by a creek half-full of trout,
but had been battered by the storm that thundered by.
Leaves had fallen, gone beyond return.
Twigs had snapped and fallen to the ground.
None of these infirmities concern
in normal times, when our health is sound.
But this was different, as the constant lashing,
the heavy gusts of stinging ice rain take its toll.
It seems as if the Gods were set on smashing
all living creatures, their creations, all
of which had failed their higher calling,
and misbehaved in many curious ways.
So, as I watched my last few dry leaves slowly falling,
something disturbing drew my thinking to the base.
Was there a loosening and a shifting of my roots?
It felt as if my lower anchors had been hurt,
and just above the surface were appearing two new shoots.
They looked like roots that all too bold and eagerly had missed the dirt.
A team of doctors now came down the polished hall,
all aiming with their stethoscopes and evil grins at me.
Their starched white smocks were crackling loudly, scaring all.
The fleeting thought occurred to me: 'OR NOT TO BE '.
They must have used a chainsaw while I slept,
'cause lifting me so swiftly off the floor
showed clearly that of all my roots I'd kept
not one. I wasn't anchored like before.
They say that dignity is needed to survive.
And once you're stripped of it there is no going back.
That's why I realised the moment I arrived
at that gray building that I would sincerely lack
the autonomous network of my lower body-being,
that without roots I would be nothing but a ghost.
Without a body or facilities for proper seeing.
So what I needed that was clearly uppermost,
was what they call the fortitude of human guts,
come to the rescue at life's crucial intersection.
I said to all the Whitecoats 'You are nuts',
if you expect me to be dumped in your collection.
Logistics now descended like a stench.
The practicality of renegade decisions.
I hurled the F-word at the Gods, excuse my French!
Bent over backwards now avoiding a collision.
They were surrounding me, their net would haul me in,
and all seemed lost as I could neither walk
nor jump to freedom from this predatory bin,
I didn't take the time or effort now to talk.
Oh, no I prayed to all, the Devil AND the Gods!
And, see! A message came from distant, cloudy skies.
It gave me reassurance how the current dicey odds
be on my side through speedy intervention
by powers of devine and human cries
and freedom from such inhumane detention
was just a breeze away, that's when I closed my eyes.
And with a sound so loud it blew the evil minds
of would-be captors in their starchy coats of white,
last thing I saw was feisty, scurrying behinds,
then I was lifted up and swept to the outside.
I travelled far upon the shoulders of this power
until it dropped me near a handsome willow tree.
It was the afternoon, close to the twilight hour,
the fleeting thought again, but this time 'twas 'TO BE'.
New neighbours had prepared a lovely spot,
in fertile soil with views of many pleasing miles.
The setting sun was looking happy, shining hot,
here was a landscape with so many different styles.
I sank with gratitude down to my missing knees.
A groundhog wandered over from the bushes now.
A pleasant humming came from two big hives of bees,
and then the Willow whispered 'Let me show you how'.
Well, I was leaning after this insane ordeal.
Would I need help to get a foothold just once more?
As all could see that I was not on even keel,
I truly wondered what for me would be in store.
The Willow shook and swayed to move around some dirt.
And Groundhog dug and levelled, stomped the earth around me.
One million Bees came down to pull me straight, (it hurt) ,
and God announced that this was done by friends to ground me.
I've known my Willowfriend now for a hundred years.
I am so fortunate to have a pleasant neighbour.
Last Spring she did surprise us, there were real fears
that she was ill but we soon found she was in willow labour.
So, now the little one, a handsome sturdy tree,
he is still learning things on how to stand his ground.
As I'm an elder he looks often up to me
and asks his questions as we proudly look around.
And just today, he'd finally asked me to explain
about the world where people do cut off your roots.
I briefly lectured that they did these things in vain,
and never let them come and strip you of your boots.
'You cannot stand upon the feet of other men
and reach the stars or simply wait for morning rains.
So let me tell you here and now, and once again:
Don't ever let them grab and put you in restrains.
And they will come as guardians of you, your precious health
but being enemies conspiring in cohoots,
your blood is needed to create their blood-stained wealth.
And never ever, little Willow, let them take your boots.'
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