Perennate

Of rhizomes, those systems of roots and stems 
             spreading in soil underground; how they hold 

on to their hoard of nutrients and starches to keep 
             the plant alive even through long, hostile seasons— 

Perennate: what they do to survive the in-between 
            time after leaves have dwindled to rot and all 

the fruit that can be gathered from the trees
           are kept in dry, cool cellars or boiled till their bright

silk dissolves into syrup. I sense them unfurl beneath,
          latticing their nodes against the long darkness ahead 

and lacing pale fingers around rough skins. 
         Of turmeric and ginger and the deep-tinted 

hearts of beet, the tight-curled fists of iris— I want 
         to know how they can trust so completely in that 

idea of return, even as animals turn fields into stubble 
         and bees begin their clustered pulsing to give their heat 

to the hive. Here, where we feed each other to keep alive, 
        I am wary and always watching for any sign you might slip  

away without me into that room soundproofed with loam, un-
         windowed: for how would I break its walls without breaking?

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