Once there stood a sapling.

I wrote this poem for my little brother and his bride, and read it at their wedding this summer. A few people have asked to see it, so I thought I would just post it here for convenience. I was nervous about this piece, because you know, someone’s wedding, but also honored that they asked me to read anything at all. And as it turned out, their wedding took place on a gorgeous summer evening in a gorgeous hilltop vineyard, and the poem felt like a good fit to the setting. Wind whispered through the neat and even rows of orchards and vines. I got to stand under a mighty tree and read about a sapling, and for a few minutes everything seemed at peace.

Here’s the poem, and more cheers to Richard and Rebecca and their new love!

Once there stood a sapling.
by Jessie Horney

Once there stood a sapling.
Planted beside a river.
Thin whips of branches,
sturdy but unsteady,
shallow spread of roots,
digging and pushing with the fast and foolish energy of youth.

Seasons seeped across the sky.
The spare cold of winter emptied the sapling,
laid bare the bark to the
biting cold,
the desperate nights.

Spring rose,
uncertain, wild,
renewed.
Buds thickened,
life beginning
again and again.

Summer perched on the crown of greens,
settled into the soil,
lingering twilights
taught the sapling
to rest,
to be.

It withstood the snap of fall,
the moods of autumn rains,
it learned to let go of dying leaves as their color bled out,
learned to be bare once more.

The sapling grew.
Trunk widened,
canopy unfolded,
the roots expanded in a slow and hidden subterranean dance.

Drought tightened the land.
Storms cracked through the air.
Some years,
it rained and rained and rained.

After each season, after each storm,
the sapling emerged.
Taller.
More beautiful.
Embattled.
Scarred.
Mighty.

A source of strength for all who came
to sit amongst its shade and moss,
to dream beneath its wisdom and courage.

There is a time for everything.
Today it’s time to turn towards the river.

We uproot.
We begin again,
together.
We plant ourselves in the shade of a vow,
nourished by a steadfast promise,
and we pray that the foolish energy of our love,
so unknown, so untested,
would radiate through our roots,
would become our strength.

The time has come,
to gather.
to laugh and to dance,
to be known,
to be planted.
to be loved.

  

Once there stood a sapling,
and the whole world watched as it grew.

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