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Thinking like a vine: Bien Nacido, 6:54 a.m. in the fog


How hushed it is, except for those birds—robins—

Who praise the light behind the clouds. I, myself,

Inaugurate the slow inevitability of changing this light to sugar.

Photosynthesis, the men call it: we plants have done it forever,

And do not trouble over its meaning.

Speaking of men, who is this who, two-legged, approaches?

It is one of them, but not the ones I know: swarthy and hooded,

Shears in hard, familiar friends whose hard hands help me grow.

No, this is an outsider, and troubled, to judge from his gait.

His are not working hands. They are plunged into his pockets,

Careless, useless. I let him pass.

I am the silent sentry of this soil, guardian of the wind,

Sprite of these hills, anciently carved from the Sea caves.

I did not know Sea, although my land whispers tales of her,

Memories passed on through the rocks and sea-salts.

They say she was a Goddess, eternal and powerful,

But she has gone, so I cannot say. Perhaps this Sea

The stones speak of rules somewhere else. On mornings such as this,

my cells sense something wet in the west wind, which freshens me

And prepares me for the Sun. The Sun: he, I understand,

Lord of the sky, golden disk, heat, light, life, comfort, warmth;

But too much Sun I cannot stand.

Now look: with light my ground begins to surge. From within my leaves, and the leaves of other plants, and from the fallen leaves

In my rows, and from the eucalyptus forest, and from beneath

the rocks and stones, and the deep folds of the tree bark wherein they sleep,

the other dwellers of this place awake from drowsy night

and stir. My gnats, flies, ants, bees, beetles, most my friends—not all.

Burgeoning, breathing, crawling, swarming, gathering, life all around,

as I am life—but look, again. The two-legged one, now there, not far,

By my cousin cordons away. What does this strange one mean,

scratching at something white like my limestone, with a sort of stem?

His brow is furrowed; he moves not, contemplative as I am contemplative, his hand etching on the limestone thing.

I have seen my other men do that, but this one is different, strange.

But men are curious; they come and go. I remain; the cliffs and crags remain; my insects remain;

my cousins, the other vines, remain; the sun, moon, stars, winds, clouds, rain, and one time—I remember well—snow,

deep, chilled and lovely. It told tales all night, and we, the plants,

listened, enthralled, until next morning Sun returned, and snow went as quickly as he had come, I know not where.

But that’s the thing of being a vine. Everything tells a story.

Perhaps that one, the strange one, the two-legged visitor,

has a tale to tell. I listen. If there is a voice, I hear it. Plants heed.

But there is none; this one is mute.

Men do not speak to vines.

We speak to them. They do not hear.

  1. Some farmers speak to their vines,

    and then wait patiently for a reply.

  2. Very well done Steve.

    I shared this link with my staff.

  3. Beautiful piece. I loved it! Well done indeed.

  4. Lisa Mattson says:

    Thrilled to hear about Jon’s JBA and absolutely love this poem.

  5. Laura Sanchez says:

    Steve, the Homeric tone of this piece really resonated for me. Thank you for sharing it. It’s not often enough that we see the world from the vines’ perspective.

  6. Brilliant and beautiful. Thank you.

    –one of the two-legged

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