The Slow Power of
Once saplings, planted between sidewalk and curb,
these oaks have overgrown, twenty years on.
Thus bound, trunks curl around themselves.
Large roots, like elbows underground,
muscle up, crack and buckle concrete slabs,
pushing them to a point, like a new mountain range.
They remind me of California,
its active tectonics, and of the slow power of roots.
I believe that with time almost immeasurable,
the earth will shift and carry you
eastward over the Rockies, across the continent,
to make your way toward home.
That pain across the chest
was the warning shot, fired across my bow:
reverse your course, or prepare to be boarded.
Pirates in the bloodstream
threaten to cut off the trade routes
and lay siege to my capital.
Now in sick bay,
I can assess the damage,
get my vessel seaworthy again.
But it’s time to rethink
what I barter with my body
before the whole empire collapses.
I lost a couple of apostrophes.
I know they were there the last time I looked.
What could've become of them?
Did they fall between cushions of my couch?
Or were they stolen by a pair
of possessive “its”?
You know the type:
they want the status of colloquial;
they want to wear it like a barrette,
to be the shortened “it is”,
to confuse the vernacular. Problem is,
no one can tell the difference any more.
Or maybe my wife is wearing them
as earrings. I may have thought they were
fresh-water pearls, because they looked
so lovely on her lobes.
In any case, I will have to replace them
with an eyelash, or a mouse's tear –
something as ephemeral
as the rest of the language.
Bruce Niedt is a beneficent bureaucrat and family man from
Cherry Hill, NJ. His work has appeared in Writer's Journal,
Schuykill Valley Journal, Up and Under: the QND Review, U.S. 1
Worksheets, miller's pond, The Barefoot Muse, and many others.
He won first prize in the 2003 ByLine Magazine Short Fiction and
Poetry Contest, second prize for poetry at the 2005 Philadelphia
Writer's Conference and was recently nominated for a Pushcart