Friday, March 12, 2010

So Many of Us! So Many of Us!

When I got back from the New Zealand trip, I found that my backyard had once again been conquered by the bamboo, new belly-high shoots representing a second wave of the attack that I spent the better part of November hacking into submission. Now, upon having returned from New York, I see that the leafy menace has begun a third wave. It’s creepy. Some of the hardier shoots have even upended large rocks foolish enough to sit in the spots the bamboo wanted for itself. This personification is no mere literary technique. I believe that the bamboo has agency, an agenda, and every intention of blasting apart my house from the floor up. We’re powerless to stop it.


Every time I step into the backyard, I think of Sylvia Plath’s poem “Mushrooms,” which, by the way, is the first non-nursery rhyme piece of poetry that I can remember reading and liking. Here, then, is that poem, in tribute to the bamboo.
Overnight, very
Whitely, discreetly,
Very quietly

Our toes, our noses
Take hold on the loam,
Acquire the air.

Nobody sees us,
Stops us, betrays us;
The small grains make room.

Soft fists insist on
Heaving the needles,
The leafy bedding,

Even the paving.
Our hammers, our rams,
Earless and eyeless,

Perfectly voiceless,
Widen the crannies,
Shoulder through holes. We

Diet on water,
On crumbs of shadow,
Bland-mannered, asking

Little or nothing.
So many of us!
So many of us!

We are shelves, we are
Tables, we are meek,
We are edible,

Nudgers and shovers
In spite of ourselves.
Our kind multiplies:

We shall by morning
Inherit the earth.
Our foot’s in the door.
(I make tributes in hopes that the bamboo will spare me. I salute you, new leafy lord and master!)

Creepy plants, previously:

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