National Poetry Month: Reciprocity

This month I am writing poems in response to the ideas, connections and echoes between All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis, edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson and Rooted: Life at the Crossroads of Science, Nature, and Spirit, by Lyanda Lynn Haupt.

At its heart, reciprocity is the idea that all beings, plant and animal, “facilitate one another in beneficial ways,” Janine Benyus writes in her essay “Reciprocity” (All We Can Save, p. 9). For several years, we have been witnessing reciprocity in action outside our kitchen window. The stump pictured below is all that’s left of a beech tree that died. Worried that it could fall on our house, my husband and son cut it down, but never got around to digging out the stump. I’m glad they left it to finish its natural cycle.


Red-crested pileated woodpeckers
Excavate the stump of an old beech,
Carving cavities, feasting on
Insects who’ve settled inside the
Pitted, pulpy wood, all that
Remains of a towering tree, where a multitude of
Organisms still thrive, a
Inextricably intertwined, supporting,
Tending, nourishing one another for
Years to come.

Draft © Catherine Flynn, 2022

Previous NPM posts:

Day 2: Kith and Kin
Day 1: The Thing Is

9 thoughts on “National Poetry Month: Reciprocity

  1. Read this poem aloud. So many wonderful word choices. Pitted, pithy wood. Your stump has become a sculpted home center for a cycle of life.

    Liked by 1 person

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