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Poetry Sundays: Short Roots

Gustave Le Gray (photographer) [French, 1820 - 1884] from the J. Paul Getty Museum

The Beech Tree by Gustave Le Gray (photographer) [French, 1820 – 1884] from the J. Paul Getty Museum

2014 was a tough year for many Mormon feminists. While there were some great positive changes in the Church, for me, they did not outweigh the hard truths I’ve witnessed.  I’ve found comfort in looking to Mormon women of older generations as spiritual role models than I have lately. Women who have weathered storms like the ERA and the 1990’s excommunications of feminists and intellectuals, women who have created their own spiritual paths in and out of the Church.

I’ve loved this poem by Carol Lynn Pearson in particular lately. This past year, I’ve felt so thirsty as I ponder my place in the Church and my own spiritual path.

“Short Roots”
by Carol Lynn Pearson

The tree
At the church next door to me
Turned up its roots and died.
They had tried
To brace its leaning
But it lowered
And lowered,
And then there it lay–
Leaves in grass
And matter roots in air,
Like a loafer on a summer day.

“Look there,”
Said the gardener,
“Short roots–all the growth went up–
Big branches–short roots.”

“How come?” I asked.

“Too much water.
This tree had it too good.
It never had to hunt for drink.”

Especially in thirsty times,
My memory steps outside
And looks at the tree
At the church next door to me
That turned up its roots and died.


The Growing Season. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1976


EmilyCC works for a national non-profit and lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her spouse and three children. She is a former editor of Exponent II and a founding blogger at The Exponent.

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9 Responses

  1. Melody says:

    Thank you for this, Emily. And Carol Lynn.

  2. Jenny says:

    What a great poem to end last year and start the new year with. It’s a good reminder that these challenges we face as feminists are helping us to form deeper roots. Hopefully our tree will live a long long time.

  3. Corrina says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Emily. It holds a lot of meaning and inspiration for me, too.

  4. Suzette says:

    What a great poem. Thanks for sharing. It gives me hope that we will continue to survive … in the midst of these hard, difficult conversations. The body of Christ will hold. We’ll make our way. And grow deep searching for living water … to fill our souls.

    You are a dear, Emily.

  5. Emily U says:

    Emily, this poem is a perfect response to 2014. How to respond to the hurt of the past year, or any kind of hurt? Grow those deep roots that can always access living water.

  6. Rachel says:

    Thank you. I am thirsty too, and seeking those deep roots.

  7. You’re so cool! I do not believe I’ve read anything like this before. So great to find somebody with unique thoughts on this subject. Really.. thank you for starting this up. This site is one thing that is required on the web, someone with some originality!

  1. January 4, 2015

    […] The Beech Tree by Gustave Le Gray (photographer) [French, 1820 – 1884] from the J. Paul Getty Museum 2014 was …read more       […]

  2. January 13, 2015

    […] B. Wells, 1870-1920, Carol Cornwall Madsen This is my attempt to answer the kind of thirst Emily CC (and Carol Lynn Pearson) wrote about, to seek for the water, and develop deep […]

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