Oh, roots:

As if finding water and nourishment
is not hard enough, be warned––

some soil is toxic. Old ocean bottom lies–
greasy, brittle, bottle-green

and black. Metamorphosed, uplifted,
eroded and fractured, water seeps

through its fissures, charging crumbs
with heavy metals in the guise of soil.

You’ll siphon up nickel, chromium,
second-helpings of asbestos, starved

of nitrogen and calcium.
If you adapt, your stunted trunk

will twist and deform, flat leaves
grow fleshy, and roots–you’ll bulge

with knotted nodes. Ask ceonothus,
brassica, or mentzelia how it’s done.

You didn’t choose the spot where
the seed you grow from fell.

You do your job, drink venom
from serpentine soil, and when

the plant you succor dies,
you will be the last to go, leaving

an irony–your bit of biomass, scorched
in gritty sand you mistook for home.

Oh, roots: A poem by Megan Anderson Bohigian

Photo used under CC.


About Author


Megan Anderson Bohigian is a Fresno poet. She is author of two poetry collections, Sightlines, published in 2013 for Tourane Poetry Press, and the chapbook Vanishing Point, published in 2018 by the Orchard Street Press, Ltd. Her work has been published in many journals, including The Comstock Review, Quiet Diamonds, and Whiskey Island Magazine, and anthologized in the book Shadowed: Unheard Voices, published in 2014. She has a BFA from the California Institute of the Arts an MFA in Creative Writing from Fresno State, and is a longtime teacher of writing. She lives in Fresno where she is active in both the writing and music communities.

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