Garden Musings: The Small Gods

The Small Gods

(Inspired by Mary Oliver’s poem Forgive Me)

A tree’s roots stretch for acres,
Invade next door yards,
Sneak under garden gnomes,
Sidewalks and roads,Weave around stone,
Under concrete,
Dodge pipes,
Detour foundations.Ever branching,
Ever reaching,
AchingFor water.

The roots are the tree’s quartermasters.
They ally with the fungi,
An army as vast as their own.
Barter water for minerals.

The fungi, beholden,
Become the tree’s cavalry,
Racing messages from the forest edge
To the deep woods.

“Your flank is under attack.”

From pest,
From bacteria,
From virus,
From pestilence,

From predator?

There, but for a
Arrangement of atoms,

Go I.

Carbon, nitrogen,
Oxygen and hydrogen.
Phosphorous, iron,
Potassium and zinc.

So many others,
The same.
All packed differently
More denselyIn a pattern better than my own?Roots reach and branch,
Their hairy threads
Supplying the tree
With sustenance.The heavens themselves
Look down and
At the universe underfoot.

The stars tip their hats
To the roots,
To the fungi,
To the small gods,

To their handiwork.

Seldom understood,
Often disrespected.

Roots are
Severed and crushed,
Poisoned and compacted,
Ripped out by ignorant hand.

Yet they charge on,
Asking no quarter,
Seeking no praise,
To feed and anchor

The towering green peak.


To save us all.

by Bob Besse

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