From the bus my mother
bird-walked narrow planting strips,
green Edens of wildness,
bent to pick weeds—
stalk, root and flowers,
to be pressed between waxed paper,
named from Ada Georgia’s Manual of Weeds.
Each specimen labeled, its seed splayed.
She called them by their common names
and by their Latinate,
meadow buttercup, Ranunculus acris,
common chickweed, Stellaria media,
yarrow, Achillea millefollium
and mother’s heart, Capsella bursa-pastoris
which grows everywhere.
Mother knew that every part
of the dandelion, the stinging nettle’s
stem and bloom, red buttons
of the salmonberries
were food, makamaka,
for the Chinook tribes.
Believed that plants like people
have hidden virtues, this
is what she loved in them.
She wandered farther afield,
returned, her face flushed, hat askew,
a clutch of bane in her hands.
Sigrun Susan Lane lives in Seattle, Washington. She is the author of two chapbooks, Little Bones and SALT, which won the Josephine Miles award from PEN for excellence in 2020. Her poems have appeared in Crab Creek Review, Malahat Review, Seattle Review and many other journals. She has won awards for poetry from the Seattle Arts Commission and the King County Arts Commission.
© 2022, Sigrun Susan Lane