Poetry Wednesday: “Beginning”

Yeah, I know, all the world needs is another “seed metaphor” poem, right?  Well, tough.


We were small and hard.
We lived this way for years:
enclosed in coats impervious
to water, air, and light, drawing
from the pockets of sustenance
tucked inside of us.  We survived.

Some of us lay dormant as the earth
froze around us, warmed, froze again.
After many seasons the cycle wore us
down, dissolved our hard skins.
Then our first roots, fragile as gossamer,
reached into the earth.

Some of us drifted in salty seas under
the white hot sky, bobbing without
course for weeks, months.  At last
a small island, a spit of sand. 
There we opened up and received
life from the sun.

And some of us needed fire to begin.
Borne on cones that refused
to drop, we merged with our parent
trunks, lay embedded there
till the day flames raced across
the forest floor with terrifying speed
and purpose. In the heat and smoke
we were released and by the thousands
jumped, exploded, into the ashy air.

Now we are the lilies of the field,
the palms arching up from the sand.
We are the pines on the dry mountain.

–Mary Gray

8 thoughts on “Poetry Wednesday: “Beginning”

  1. Mary,
    One of the many things I like about this (besides your “deal with it” attitude in the introduction) is the factual tone taken by the seeds (which I would think would be the tone taken by seeds, just by their very nature) contrasting with the fantastic changes and events they go through. I read this, thinking, “How can they be so calm? Don’t they know what is about to happen to them?” Man, I can anthropomorphize with the best of them. This poem works and this poem kicks a** all over the garden. Two green thumbs up!

  2. Mary, I love your seed poem. I don’t know a lot about poetry but I love plant / human metaphors. I have one of my own that I wrote but I am not confident enough about it to post it online like you. I was going to email it to you but the link on your blog that says “email Mary” just goes to the Cox Communications home page. Keep up the great writing, including sharing your poems!

    • Thank you so much, Heather. I used to get nervous about sharing my poetry with others but now I guess I’m just getting too old to care if others don’t like it. Ha! One of the perks of aging! Also, thank you for bringing the email issue to my attention. I really should learn how to use WordPress one of these days.

  3. This is great! I’m going to have my students read this when we do nature writing (if you don’t mind). Thank you for sharing it!!!

      • I teach high school English at a private special ed. school in California for students with learning disabilities and high-functioning autism. I think they’ll like your work much more than many of the poems in their textbooks. It will be a while before I get to teaching it in class, but I’ll let you know how it goes (if it goes well, at least!).

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