The Sacred in the Quotidian

Fall, 2005

Gene Berson

Botanical Correspondences

I cut these cattails
while the sun is low in the evening sky

I cut these cattails
while the white egret stands as though carved
over her rippling image

as I cut these cattails the wind drowns
their small cries, calling out to me from my own skin

this is what I say:
I cut you to put you into our home
so that our lives
may aspire to your simple form

one or two
so that we may learn to live
with the patience of reeds
so that we may learn to live as you grow

along the shoreline, food for birds
medicine for people
inhabit that fringe between water
and the tough blackberries and willow trees

I cut you cattails
to carry your spirit into our home

so that we may enkindle it
in our own lives, and so live to protect
all your kind: we become you

we become you
and the wind rustling your flat leaves is the turning
of the dead and the unborn
in my own hand that holds the knife steadily

and I pray you find my heart in accord
with my hand, and my tongue
living within what I see

with these hopes I cut your stem
and acknowledge the tear
and the absence of the tear in my own stomach