Return To Your Roots
By: Mateo Klepper

I didn’t know how deep my roots were until I moved to Oregon.
I am a plant from Texas.
When I was transplanted my roots didn’t take to the soil.
In fact it was quite painful and confusing.
My roots were exposed to the world.
People laughed at them.
People often make fun of what they don’t understand; I guess it’s an anxious tendency.
Y’all became you guys.
Do the girls really like being called guys?

There is a language called Root Making.
To make new, we sacrifice some of the old.
I became embarrassed of my roots.
I started to forget who I was.
I smelled and tasted like Oregon.
Oregon tastes kinda like river moss or maybe a mushroom.

Even my roots looked different.

My roots got damaged when I was still in Texas.
It was really hard to heal them so far from their native soil.
The wounds got deeper the longer I went without a place to feel safe.
My roots stayed above the surface for five years.
It became routine to pack them in a suitcase.

Roots can deliver so many essential nutrients.

It’s interesting how we can forget about things we really need to be happy.
When my roots are in the ground I have returned, returned to a place of receptivity.
It takes a great deal of trust to let our roots sink themselves into the thick flesh of mother's arm.
What if I have to pack up my roots again?
It can be really painful, after all.
When my roots are short I keep my hair long.

There is magic to be found in a dry river bed.

A good friend of mine has helped heal my wounds.
This arroyo feels so cool on my legs.
The rustling Vatamote reminds me of my legs.
That time it healed my feet.

What a friendly spirit.
I once saw her transplanting tomatillos during a rain storm.
Those tomatillos were so happy.
Sometimes harsh environments can be deceptive.
Those tomatillos were teachers.
They taught me to trust myself.

I let my roots into the soil of a small town in Utah.
After six days of connection I packed them up.
I received something during those days in Utah,
something that kept me close to the spirit of someone quite beautiful.
I had extended my hand and my hand was held.

It was such a warm hand.

It pulled me closer until I was wrapped up in long colorful wings.
We spun through the sky.
My roots were longer than I had ever seen them before.
They danced together in the wind.
They twisted and tangled themselves up.
A fibrous lacunae was woven around my body.

I felt safe.

For the first time in many moons I felt at home.
My spirit and soul were acknowledged.
The land recognized me.
My roots have grown long and resilient.
The soil of my soul is rich with life.
My soul houses a garden filled with love and meaning.
A butterfly lands on my beating heart.
My roots know where to go when they need to stretch out.

Fin.

Mateo Klepper is wilderness therapist, craftsman, and artist currently living in Saint George, UT.