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Pippa White Performs Her Poem “Prairie Roots”

Local artist, writer and actress Pippa White performs her piece “Prairie Roots” at Pioneers Park in Lincoln, Nebraska. The full text of the poem — which features a #NoKXL message — is below.

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PRAIRIE ROOTS by Pippa White

Prairie Roots go way down deep
Fourteen, sixteen, eighteen feet.
As deep as the roots of a mighty tree
Are the roots of the shoots of the wide prairie.
Prairie Roots go way down deep.

Prairie roots go way down deep,
Way down deep where the earth doth sleep
Amidst the rocks and the sand and the soil and the mud
And the worms and the snakes and the bugs and the grubs
Amidst the ash and the silt and the clay and the crud
And the vines and the tubers and the fibers and the stubs
Amidst the water and the mica and the gravel and the clods
And all of that together they call it SOD…..and it’s tough!
‘Cause Prairie Roots go way down deep.

Prairie roots go way down deep,
Way down deep where the earth doth sleep,
And the sod could make a brick and the brick could make a home,
And the home could hold a family and the family tilled the loam
And the loam could grow a crop, grow a Nation, grow a band
Of hardworking people who personified this land.
Prairie roots go way down deep.

Prairie roots go way down deep,
Way down deep where the earth doth sleep
To a long ago time, and a people in tune
With the earth and the sky, the sun and the moon,
With buffalo and beauty and sweet flute song,
To their stories, their lives, their right to belong.
Sad song.
But prairie roots go way down deep.

But of course, prairie roots go beyond the soil.
They’re the roots of the people, the people who toil;
The people who helped the land Bring Forth
Its bountiful riches, east, west, south, north.

The Native and the Homesteader they shared a bond.
They shared a love for the land, land wild and strong,
Land mighty, land vast, land rich and giving,
Beneficent, generous, to everything living.

Land tough, land challenging, land huge, land thrilling,
Land magic, land fertile, land yielding, land willing,
Land supporting, land holding, the lives of me and you
This was something both Native and Homesteader knew.

They knew the land was manna, they knew the land was life.
They knew the land was holy, they knew the land was rife
With everything they needed, to live and love and thrive
The Great Creator’s plan to keep us alive.

And so they gave back, in many different ways
The Native with offerings, songs and praise,
The Homesteader with a promise, a promise of heart and hand,
Native, Homesteader, good stewards of the land.

And so the prairie flourished, and so the prairie birthed,
Food in abundance for tens of millions on this earth.
The Bread Basket of the World, oh, what a noble name!
And the good stewards of the land knew it was an honest claim.

So because the prairieland is such a generous provider
Good stewards must be cautious, cautious of the outsider;
Not out of selfishness, not out of pique,
But out of concern for prairie roots deep.

Good stewards must watch, they must guard, they must guide,
Against the dangers of ignorance, avarice, pride,
Who else can speak, who else can take a stand?
Who else knows better the Nature of this Land?

That which may harm, you think they’ll stand by
And let the land suffer, perhaps sicken and die?
You think that unlikely? We’ve been there before:
Love Canal, Chernobyl, and Oil Spills Galore.

Oh, sweet fields all ablaze with things that grow!
Why can’t they acknowledge the good stewards might know?
Know what is right, what is safe, what belongs
What is dangerous, what is risky, what is foolhardy, what is wrong.

And yet some now believe a pipeline can’t harm
The river, the ranch, the field, the farm,
They tell you that oil trumps every need,
More important than water, than soil, than seed.

And this tar sands pipe is something much worse
Than previous pipelines, carved into the earth
With cadmium, chloride, ammonia, toluene,
Arsenic, phenols, cyanide and benzene.

The good stewards are trying, oh, please hear their plea.
Please save the Bread Basket, God’s gift to you and me.
Oil has covered so much once clean.
Please let us keep this land pristine.

Prairie roots go way down deep,
Fourteen, sixteen, eighteen feet.
As deep as the roots of a mighty tree
Are the roots of the shoots of the wide prairie.

But too many people see only the grass
Waving and dancing should a sweet wind pass
They see only the surface, call it dull and plain
So perhaps my words are all in vain.
And yet I must beg, and ask you to keep
Tar sands away from Prairie Roots Deep.

By Pippa White
Copyright:  August 2013

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