Strong grasses with deep roots grew here
Strong grasses survived the flood every year
The held the soil in place
As the river toward the ocean raced
Released from mountain sides in spring.
Til hungry sheep without a shepherd grazed them all
And left their roots to rot and run away
With successive floods.
The soil stayed fertile for centuries: millennia of accumulated humus holds a rich and patient bounty.
But every hold runs out if it is not restored
And the sheep gave little back of what they took.
They planted orchards here: generations of families
Peaches plums and apples
And this land became a desert.
An apple tree in the desert
No matter how much water is given it
Will never flourish
And if by chance it does
It costs the desert dearly
And bears scant fruit.
Though uprooting is dangerous
It must to move to cooler climes
Where it may thrive and do the good
That it was made to do.
And in its upturned wake
Grassy seeds may rooting take:
Those that could never grow
Beneath the shade the leaves would throw
And do more good
And make more food
Than the apple tree could.
Then the land will emerge from its distress
Slowly but finally progress
And then one day in centuries
The children of the Apple tree
May find roots
Where their ancestors once deserted