By Nancy Roe


Wild seed caught by wind drops deep in secret. Black and still, the soil womb nurtures seedling in silence. Years pass and seasons pass of celestial light and dark, wet violent storms, and hot dry summers. In all of this, the sapling reaches sky ward gaining stature.

“You want me to cut the locust?” the landscaper asked me of the spindly fledgling, gangly and tall.

“No,” I said.

And so, beauty built, drawing sugars from sun. Harvesting bounties from endless mysteries, delicate leaflets synthesize energy for growth. Roots feed, hungry and thirsty, on water and soil. All in the dark silence. All in obscurity. Days rush by in a flurry.

Calendar pages turn and turn and turn.

The locust holds his secrets.

New arrivals join the locust. Just wispy sticks of things, two new saplings plant nearby. Though the locust reigns yet unencumbered. The locust gathers sunlight garnering power. Preparation ensues for the flowering.

On the heels of deep-frozen sleep, Spring warmth comes whispering resurrection to life. The locust wakes, now eager, now prepared. New buds swell and burst. Exquisite delicate linen white clusters of blossoms cascade, hanging like dainty grapes. At dawn, at dusk, in sun and shade, air drafts waft perfume. Busy pollinators dance, feasting on sweet nectar.

And still the locust grows, but not alone.

Verdant girth, full and thick, fattens around the locust. Though the new trees that flank him out pace his growth. These neighbors spurt up and out, taking to the heights, blocking sun below. The locust now leans North, top heavy in his resplendence.

Then comes the storm.

With frenzied force, violent winds whip and tear through the trees. Heaving and churning, the relentless winds and rain torrents assault, choreographing a war dance, a dance to the death.

The willowy trees beside the locust weave, bend, and flail. They gyrate gracefully sweeping the ground with leaf fingers. They endure the onslaught, yielding to its force. But the locust breaks, losing its heart.


In the still sun after the storm, stark wounds gape where the locust’s glory dwelt. The lush green jewel of the locust’s heart lies torn from his essence, in the street below.

His burgeoning glorious heart now gone, the locust fades, weakened and diminished. Now an expanding shade canopy blankets the sky as tree neighbors grow taller and wider still, blocking out the sun. Now left in shadow, the life of the locust wanes. His fragrant beauty dies with the strength of the locust.

And so, the locust is cut.

Calendar pages turn and turn and turn.

But as they do, a mystery works beneath the ground, down in the dark. Bustling alive, regeneration bursts exponents in secret. A miracle in the deep makes all things new.

Come Spring, the yard wakes up fresh, tender, and green. But, what’s this?

Everywhere we look, spreading out as far as our small yard reaches, there they are. Dozens and dozens of locust seedlings have made claim. There they stand proudly in their places, a grove arisen.

For you see, the locust grove has come for the felling of the one.

The weather weary one who thrived and suffered.

The one whose heart was torn by storm.

The one who spread fragrance and beauty without reward, without respect of persons.

Johnny is the locust, we the ones flowing from his root source, planted in his wake.

We who rise to show his tenderness and fairness.

We who do not deign to speak ill of another.

We, who with candor and honesty, pierce the phony and go to the heart.

We who have courage to value beauty and creativity over accumulation and power.

We who dare to plumb the depths of truth.


He gave us the love and beauty of himself and captured our hearts forever.

Now it is our turn.

We do it for Johnny.


John Ecclesiastes Liberty Pretasky