[F]ungal threads link nearly every tree in a forest — even trees of different species. Carbon, water, nutrients, alarm signals and hormones can pass from tree to tree through these subterranean circuits. . . . Seedlings severed from the forest’s underground lifelines are much more likely to die than their networked counterparts. ~Ferris Jabr, “The Social Life of Forests,” New York Times, Dec. 12, 2020
How much joy we have perceived—
cottontails munching our fallen seeds,
sparrows’ soft trilling, & children’s limbs,
spider-like, scaling our heights & spinning
hymns pierced with light like our canopy—
we’ve seen it all
& also tragedy—
what countless woes are ours.
Listen, you city on a hill:
in our entire family—
sing O, Muse!
fungal threads stitch our roots
into a tapestry entwined
with what we need to survive,
though elsewhere, at times,
Earth her gracious fruit denies.
Our rings chronicle more than our age.
Encircling our pith are pages
of an old, old story
telling of mother, father, son, daughter,
linked like ligaments to our boughs,
life on life downstriken.
Forsaken in a field, wide & open,
standing on the side of a road,
or loitering, full-grown,
beside a court house,
some of us, the furies chose.
When our branches broke
their necks, when our live oaks,
junipers & maples, ironwoods & elms
absorbed everything human
into our trunk & bark, phloem & xylem,
what we anticipated did not come to pass.
The hangman knew what cells to smother,
knew we weren’t made to be his brother’s
keeper, to inherit his sister’s last gasp.
We were meant to share our breath,
intercede in evergreen with sense
& symmetry. Yet, like regret,
fate clung to us,
wasted thus by death on death.
A Best of the Net and seven-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Julie L. Moore is the author of four poetry collections, including, most recently, Full Worm Moon, which won a 2018 Woodrow Hall Top Shelf Award and received honorable mention for the Conference on Christianity and Literature’s 2018 Book of the Year Award. Her poetry has appeared in African American Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Image, New Ohio Review, Poetry Daily, Prairie Schooner, The Southern Review, and Verse Daily. She is the Writing Center Director at Taylor University, where she is also the poetry editor for Relief Journal. Learn more about her work at julielmoore.com.