First Saturday of Lent

Grow up, little mangrove tree,
not down, though it is in your nature
to spread roots far and deep:

Grow up, for you are planted
in a seedbed that is rich,
but one day I will transplant you
down from your mountaintop
in the salt-water and the mire
and hard earth by the sea.

Grow up, for your branches
though they are weak and slender
must multiply in leaves
to give shelter to the weary,
and to bear many burdens
too heavy for them now.

Grow up, little mangrove tree,
for it is your desire
to be crushed
and your roots to go dry
so that the cactus might flower,
the aloe vera, the Japanese maple.

Very well—even the prophet
and the priest
forage in a land they know not.
Remember—my Spirit
drove them into the desert
and you, too, out from the sea.

Grow up, precious mangrove tree:
in time you will thirst
for these plentiful waters:
in time again you will spread your roots
into their depths
and thirst no more.

This is day 11 of Labia Munda, a series of forty poems during the forty days of Lent. 

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