My Family Tree: How Love Takes Root and Grows


I wrote this poem on my grandfather’s 91st birthday, which we celebrated in Iowa. On my way to the party at his assisted living facility—with balloons and chocolate cake and friends and family—I was struck by the thought that many generations of my family have farmed the land and raised their families in this beautiful state.

I’m inspired by how the love between one man and one woman can grow into a family that grows into more families. It is a love that keeps growing, like a tree sprouting more branches. I wrote this poem as a reflection on those generations and the way my family members have lived and loved. It is that love that makes me want to make the daily choices necessary to grow my family today.


On frozen fog-filled drive

By farm and field

The furrows in land and mind

Could feel time


These are the lands my ancestors trod

There the stone-stud plain where their bodies now lay

This is the sky under which they worked

These are the stars under which they loved


I am but a twig on this tall tree

My baby is like a bud

Those before are rooted below

Their lives the seed from which we grow


May my love, too

Take root and grow

Not plants of green

But bonds of blood

Into a family

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