If it had roots, the pulling-out would be easy,
but, being rhizome, it tangles its way far, far out,
as though sending emissaries, ambassadors;
but which way do they travel?
Do they depart or return?
The beginning hides sneekily under soil,
like a power-line, a waterpipe,
some subterranean transport network,
while the visible growth bursts
a periscope greeting, a hand waving to the day.
Like me, it craves light and craves soil.
Hence this tangled network, this clump
of green and brown, like a jungle, like a weed.
If it had roots, the pulling-out would be easy.
Not so the rhizome; it is too much like me.
The fact that a work of such unperturbed objectivity and such deep, radiating peace could grow from a life which, far from being untroubled, consumed itself in strife, gives us an insight into the special quality of the man.
(Josef Pieper, The Silence of St Thomas)
The branch is not the root system.
When you see the grandness of the oak,
the stateur of the pine, the fir, do you
also know the deep
tangling that grows beneath?
And rhizomes too
defy our linear longings
to simply be a trunk, a branch.
They entwine, enfold, arise in grace, out of abyss,
Aquinas, it is said, was never
led by spirit but by thought.
“He contemplates…with pen in hand”*,
as though the pen were like a fence-post
constraining the grace of higher thought.
When, twenty-three, I took graceless aim
at shots fired over tea against my faith,
my sparring partner only said,
You know what you remind me of?
The scholastic period. The scholastics, man.
An insult? Perhaps. I did not speak
of the nights I’d spent in faithless fear.
All I am, and was, is straw. Yet pen
takes roots beneath the page,
and rhizomes grow within the nib.
Only grace that minds can ever take wings;
grace that pens can gather thought.
All grace that straw can speak.
Your mind’s a rhizome and your head’s at sea.
Stray flotsam, jetsam drift in it; its roots
Run deeper than the ocean bed and shoots
Burst out of it, this way and that. The key
To tracing thoughts back to their unity
Lies not in system or in sticking boots
Into the wildness of your thought. The fruit
Will show the truth for judgment of the tree;
Meanwhile, your wild plurality of thought
Unsettles – let it. In your fragments, turn
To where one Word encompasses it all.
Within these blowing winds, the truth’s a squall,
But in my calm, confusion will be caught.
Disintegrate in me; to me, return.