This poem by Arboretum founder, Fred Lape, playfully meditates on both the permanence and impermanence of sand. Lape intimates that sand, over the millennia, “retains nothing long,” yet in the very long run – on its own time, so to speak – sand becomes rock, something solid, something that will endure for ages, at least measured in human time. But perhaps Lape intimates that , over the millennia, rock becomes sand again .… and so people, governments, even gods endure for only a time in an endless cycle.
– Nolan Marciniec
The malleable sand obeys any master.
Even the smallest wave slides it.
The heavy breakers roll brown froth,
grinding it swiftly in their jaws.
The wind sifts it over the dunes.
The feet of bathers scuff and depress it.
In it is written the passage of birds,
triangles of hundreds of little feet.
It retains nothing long, a backward child.
If persons had this malleability
governments would move more easily
and die without the yeast of growth.
But bury it deeply layer by layer,
let it lie quiet a few thousand years,
it coheres, gathers strength,
becomes blue stone for houses,
walls to separate cows or people.
Out of this sand I press with my toe
some future man may carve a god.