When I think of vines, I think of Faulkner.
I recall the Reconstruction south.
I associate bad things collapsing,
Being reclaimed by nature.
Returning to the primeval order of things.
Of better, stronger, more efficient structures
Slowly, carefully, fastidiously prevailing over them.
Enveloping colonial manses and crushing them.
Squeezing the depravity from their stale black hearts.
Like a patient boa, strangling a child-eating alligator.
Swallowing it whole.
Our legions of vegetation
Were stronger then.
Smarter, less decayed.
Today, they stand no chance
Against those newfangled species of plantations
Which took their place, rebranded.
Cloaked in rationale,
Redirecting blame expertly inward.
Sprung back all about the fecund prairies
Rife as dandelions.
These hydra heads
With ameliorated faces,
How will we sever them now?
With our green armies so shrunken
Degenerate, putrified, crumbling.
Leafless, shivering, exposed.
How might any hope to brand the slavers’ necks,
If they can ever succeed in amputating them?
Prevent new iterations emerging,
With such paltry reinforcements?
Uprooted, bowled over,
Toppled and unable to right ourselves,
Felled pines, the lot of us.
Incapable of finding the strength
The wherewithal to stand up again.
Leaves, withered and putrefying,
Fallen upon hard, wet ground.
In a tall grass,
Watching shadowy forms.
Lions with thirsts to slake
Skulking silently among us,
Radiating malevolent intent.
Casualty of bourgeois sensibilities,
Whose modernity scandalized
Exemplar of all things avant-garde,
Patron seraph of artistic revolutionaries.
Lend us your strength.
To resist as you did
Those tedious tendencies
So insidiously politic,
Toward the ordinary, the vulgar.
Grant our creepers
Where their rootlets
Might find purchase upon.
Strong sticks to climb,
Sturdy branches to cling to
Let us scale them together
To the upmost heavens
And know heights unimaginable.
Lead us from debauched aristocracy
Into the light and laughter of gay Paris.
Teach us how to be gentle,
While renouncing a need
I hope this whispered prayer
Reaches where you repose
With your bluebells.
That it finds you well and serene,
Having finally achieved that unflustered peace,
You so obdurately sought after,
Should have been afforded
Throughout all that somersaulting
A century ago.
You rest now,
While we labor on,
Endeavoring to contend
With this still life.
Vines gingerly searching,
For stable footing.
Jerome Berglund graduated from the cinema-television production program at the University of Southern California, and has spent much of his career working in television and photography. He has had photographs published and awarded in local papers and last year staged an exhibition in the Twin Cities area which included a residency of several months at a local community center. The most recent show featuring his pictures, at the Pause Gallery in New York, opened in December.