God of Roots

Photograph by Auscape/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

 

WORDS BY ELLEN BASS

in collaboration with parley for the oceans

To celebrate Earth Month, Parley for the Oceans and Atmos team up for an ongoing eco-poetry series on the connection between the environment and the human experience. In “God of Roots,” poet Ellen Bass writes of the power of the Earth at work—as if there is all the time in the world; that it’s up to humans to save all we can.

WORDS BY ELLEN BASS

in collaboration with parley for the oceans

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Meanwhile, the heat and light

of a flaming star rush

93 million miles to reach us,

baby girls are born

with their four hundred thousand

egg cells already formed, otters

keep grooming their guard hair, whirling

the water, working air into the deep

underfur, beluga whales swim

along the Earth’s magnetic field,

chicks pip a circle of holes counterclockwise

around the blunt end of their eggs,

pressing with their feet and

heaving with their shoulders,

larvae eat their way through the soft

mesophyll of oak leaves, leaving a trail

of dark feces in their wake, tart juice

swells within the rinds of lemons,

and under the Earth the god of roots

goes on painting the lustrous fringe

with a brush so delicate—

only one sable hair—as though

there were all the time in the world.

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