Recently, my mother sent me this poem by Marge Piercy. She said it is one of her favorites, and now it is one of my favorites, too. Marge is a bestselling author and poet who is active in antiwar, feminist and environmental causes.
My mother is an environmental activist herself, always deeply concerned about the future of the planet. I remember when she started subscribing to Organic Gardening magazine back in the 1970s; she has since earned certification as a “Master Gardener.”
From as early as I can remember, my mother taught me to have a deep reverence for nature, and to see myself as part of the natural world instead of separate from it. My mother, or Mama, as I call her, also taught me to embody kindness, a spirit of collaboration, and resilience, even in the most challenging of times.
As soon as I was old enough to walk, she would take me to the side of the house to see the first blooms of purple crocuses peering from patches of melted snow. Despite the long cold winter, they always emerged.
Months later, in autumn, the seeds we planted together in the spring would return to us, transformed into the cherry tomatoes I’d pop into my mouth or the carrots I would pull with delight from the soil.
Over time, I recognized, from her patient teaching, the lessons of resilience and connection. And so now I share Marge Piercy’s poem, and a photo of my mother.
Connections are made slowly, sometimes they grow underground.
You cannot tell always by looking what is happening.
More than half a tree is spread out in the soil under your feet.
Penetrate quietly as the earthworm that blows no trumpet.
Fight persistently as the creeper that brings down the tree.
Spread like the squash that overruns the garden.
Grow in the dark and use the sun to make sugar.
Weave real connections, create real nodes, build real houses.
Live a life you can endure.
Make love that is loving.
Keep tangling and interweaving and taking more in,
a thicket and bramble wilderness to the outside but to us interconnected with rabbit runs and burrows and lairs.
Live as if you liked yourself, and it may happen: reach out, keep reaching out, keep bringing in.
This is how we are going to live for a long time:
not always, for every gardener knows that after the digging, after the planting,
after the long season of tending and growth,
the harvest comes.
Be well, kindred spirits. Be generative. Tend those seeds.