Taylor Graham

Roots and Rot

Here on my ridgetop, the oak roots
reach and branch from tree to tree.
The ponderosa sends its fingerlings
from taproot to tap the rootlets
of the next tree eastward--tiniest
interlinked with tiniest like capillaries
where the red blood turns to purple
and then blue, rising again toward air.
The kiss of branches, needles, leaves
is only the outer touch of trees,
the clothed embrace. Underground
is where the trees live and love
and die, and rot out from their heart-
wood, and thrust out mushrooms,
fungus, lichens to spew their spores
out on the air.

Love, you're too far for finger-touch
and the breath that gives back
blue kisses. But here,
I found where earth has shoved up
winter flowers whorled and fluted,
gold as yeast with blood at the edges.
I can almost taste the sweetness
of their tongues.

Copyright 1996, Taylor Graham

Taylor Graham is a volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler. Her poems have
appeared or are forthcoming in America, The Christian Science Monitor, New
York Quarterly, Southern Humanities,
and elsewhere. Her latest collection is
Casualities: search-and-rescue poems (Coal City, 1995).