Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cow Parsnip/Poison Oak

Cow Parsnip
Heracleum maximum

What cows?
asked the elk

Contemplating the tender green
the fat ribbed pod

It swelled
day after day

And cracked open
an umbrella against the sun

White bouquet
prairie nosegay

Then came the bees

Susan Whitney for Zumwalt Prairie Cache

Poison Oak

I am in love with you
I know you’re not for me
Glossy, shimmering in the grass
Your bright greenness
Already in spring edged with maroon
You’re wearing the tiny green berries

Clumps gregarious
Clumps along the trail
Under the oaks
Up the hill
Between the rocks even
and then again
In the fall you are brilliant
The deepest deep maroons that make
Me long to hold
You as bouquet
Take home
But wait

There is something we know about you
We’ve been told
We’ve read the interviews

Q. When did you first realize you had such power?
A. I’ve known since I was a seed, I felt it in my roots
It’s in my very oils

And some, they say
Eat you, delicious they say
Your young shoots in spring
A regime of increasing doses
until they are immune
And can walk through your communities unafraid
But I prefer to believe what I have heard
What I have learned through pain
I admire you and hope to remain

Susan Whitney for Zumwalt Poetry Cache