About Finding One's Roots

Our most ancient and hungry mothers groped for them.
Anchors in hurricanes, or crippling dead weights,
an ambiguity stems from roots.
A tumbleweed is rootless when it wanders,
becoming an everywhere twig scraping the sand.
Restore the plant to a fertile, damp loam
and it explodes into foliage.
Soil then can fashion growth as much as roots.
Salty soil sucks out sap,
shriveling stems into stumps,
but a balanced matrix is a dutiful midwife,
giving all and taking nothing away.

Try stepping barefoot on the ground
and the whole business clings
to your heels, to your toes--between your toes,
hard to scrub off completely.
A mote of roots, traces of soil
always betray where you've been.
Wearing shoes from the moment of your birth
would keep your feet clean of native soils,
but then all memories would be of walking on hard, uniform surfaces
with no remembrance of your soles pressing the warm yielding earth.
There is another way to walk rootless,
simply hack your feet off.

Richard Fein

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