Poem: “Pando”

We are the ocean tapeweed, the creosote plant, the quaking aspen who lived alone for so long, longed for love so much it copied itself, over and over to infinity. Got so big and so old we forgot our separate fruits were from the same tree. Our fruits and leaves dropped off, died, forgot. But our roots never did. Pulling on each other, even now, in the midst of the great dying. If we dug a little deeper, a little wider. Trembling together, even now, even now.

Note: Pando is the name of a clonal colony of one quaking aspen tree living in Utah. It’s ~80K years old. 


3 thoughts on “Poem: “Pando”

  1. Wow. Very powerful. I especially love this part: “the quaking aspen who lived alone for so long, longed for love so much it copied itself, over and over to infinity.” That’s a gorgeous, insightful, mind-blowing image. And how resonant the repetition of sounds is here! “Alone for so long, longed for love.” Your L’s and O’s copy themselves, like the aspen. It’s a beautiful example of word choice supporting, mirroring, and magnifying theme.

    When the narrator says “we are,” I hear this as a human voice, but it could just as easily be the voice of the trees, the tapeweed, the creosote plants themselves. This poem reminds me that we are all relatives: humans and plants and everything that lives, all connected at the roots.

    The use of “the great dying” here is interesting, because scientists often use this term to describe the period when most of life on Earth suddenly died out 250 million years ago. But the poem’s notes reference an 80,000-year old tree. This raises the possibility that the narrator is inviting us to think of this moment as the stage for another great dying.

    There is difficulty in the poem (I’m thinking of words like “alone,” “longed,” “old,” “separate,” “died,” forgot,”) but there is also hope. The trees are connected. They are alive. They are products of a single longing for love. And there is the possibility of digging “a little deeper, a little wider.” What will happen if we do that, here, now, in this current time of catastrophe? It’s an excellent question.

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