R. J. Keeler


How to Love a Plant

Simple—lift it, take it out into that close-by forest.
Walk in farther and farther, just like a young deer.
Look at every unmarked trail as if it were high beckoning.
Try not to justify; trudge, aimlessly or not.
Imagine many grass-lit clearings among ancient, ringed firs.
Each opening becomes an unknown space within wild greenness.
Wherever you pick will be safe and quiet, like a sparse grotto.
But soon you must prepare to part and to return.
Undertake at afternoon, while shadows move west to east.
Circle and circle; look carefully at all corners and angles.
Ask each tall tree, Within this long lifetime, will you still be here?
Certainly in coming seasons the grass will rise up, overtop.
That hand-spade in your hip pocket—bring your left hand there.
Push the sharp spade-tip deep; mark a broad, luminous circle.
Set your charge alive into that fresh, shaded burrow.
Say a blessing, even more than one.
Blessings may do no benefit but neither do they harm.
All this may take hours; you must reach home before sunset.
Back away now.
You may return in one year, but you may only return once.

R. J. Keeler was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, and grew up in the jungles of Colombia. He holds a BS in Mathematics from North Carolina State University, an MS in Computer Science from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, an MBA from the University of California at Los Angeles, and a Certificate in Poetry from the University of Washington. An Honorman in the U.S. Naval Submarine School, he was Submarine Service (SS) qualified. He is a recipient of the Vietnam Service Medal, Honorable Discharge, and a Whiting Foundation Experimental Grant. He is a member of IEEE (technological society), AAAS (scientific society), and the Academy of American Poets. A former Boeing engineer.


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