I have stood,
heard legends
since my youth –

warriors, crusaders,
slave traders,
conquerors, rulers,

explorers, and those
who vanquished

They spun yarns of writers,
famed painters, composers,
inventors –

all have risen,
then declined,
while I stood

surrounded by
majesty unparalleled
in princes’ palaces,

presidents’ mansions,
halls of honor,
museums of masterpieces.

I have stood –
accessible, available
to all who

sought my solace,
closed their eyes
in reverence

as they reached
to lay hands of benediction
on my rough bark

that has withstood
fire and storm,
heat and cold,

disease, drought,
debris, disaster.
They fell silent – in awe.

I have been summoned,
entreated to leave that
sacred space

where I had stood,
to answer a call from
forms of life everywhere,

called to observe
the hasty resolutions of
humans bent

on temporary
power, which can be
bought, at reduced price.

Here I now stand
conspicuous in my
grandeur next to

an opulent
abode of one
who has breathed

perilous intent, poised to
fracture our prized
home once protected.

Though my arms are raised
high above this and
neighboring systems,

those swiftly entering
these portals of privilege
pay no heed.

It is he they seek –
a flimsy figure
whom they surround

like a swarm of bees
around honey,
sticky and sweet.

I peer through thick panes
to see closed circle
tightening around

this one who demands
all adoration and praise.
They lay their hands

on his smooth back, as blessings
and incantations call upon
a sacred power – foreign.

I sense a shudder in my
limbs as I observe,
fearing for brother

tree and sister rock,
streams and flowers,
breath and life.

My arms implore the sky
as I stand in silent petition,
vigilant, unnoticed.

© Julia Penner-Zook, 2017
Photo credit: personal photo library


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