This poem appears in the Fall 2022 / Winter 2023 issue of Modern Age. To subscribe to the journal, click here.

Two thousand years and more, sequoias grew
In isolation, sheltered in the West,
Unyielding as the winds of change passed through,
Majestic and perpetually at rest.

They saw the rise and set of countless suns,
The scourge of droughts, rejuvenating rains,
Stood steady, like the mountain’s river runs,
Their branches spreading like the boundless plains

And while they stood, the Roman Empire fell,
Balboa reached the calm Pacific shore
And, in a humble church, a lonely bell
Announced the end of some forgotten war.

They do not understand this transience
Or how it gives a meaning to our lives.
They view the seasons with ambivalence
And cannot fathom why a mortal strives

To reach its destination, spurred along
A narrow, winding and uneven path
Without the benefit of having long
To catch the joy, or to escape the wrath.

We know that opportunities abound,
Although they may be only temporary,
And mindfulness, with effort, can be found
To make each parting breath a sanctuary.

These Titans never could imagine this,
Their ages are too long, too slow to pass.
They cannot share the evanescent bliss
Of April sunlight on the greening grass.

At times, I think that I would like to see
The revolutions of a thousand years,
To find the future beckoning to me
And leave behind the realm of worldly fears,

And then I think about those ancient trees,
Unmoving while I walk the road ahead
And I can say, without the least unease,
That I will take impermanence instead.