You never told me
That terra firma is redundant
Never deigned to inform me

That in time’s tide
These bricks aren’t steady
And when they falter
Get not mortar
But rather more bricks
Added onto them.
Sure I’m disappointed,
For while passing by this structure
I can see truth in these bricks alone,
Despite the changing light and savage weather.
But upon closer
I see how they fit together
both before and after.
Call them Phoenix
if you can stand the laughter.
And now we’re assaulted from all sides—
some calling for dedication to the former shapes
in our artsy Sammelsurium
others wishing betrothal
between us artisans and the modern.
And the deeper we dig into this tierra,
the more we see not
Old and New
But a rainbow of colors and textures
in all the layers of this terrain.

And now this article stands steadfast
although tomorrow
more bricks will be added on.

Jon C. Jensen, ca. April 1996, in response to a question on my Linguistics 450 midterm exam by Cynthia Hallen at Brigham Young University:
“Write a poem or a short essay using the root meanings and English derivatives of the Indo-European root *deru and/or the IE root *ar-.”