Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Weeds Have Names

Athens, Georgia
September 24, 2014; revised October 6, 2015

With thanks to the Nature Ramblers, led by Dale Hoyt and Hugh Nourse, with Don Hunter, photographer. Some of Don's images from September 18 are reproduced below. No botanicals were harmed in the production of this poem.

Weeds have names we never know:
the world is filled with hidden souls.

I walk down moist paths
in the abundance of summer

through dew drops and deer ticks
to hang on new words, happy

as a puppy with a playtoy. A boy
exploring the borders of Eden

would sense the names assigned
by Adam, though science prefers

the precision of Latin –
verbesina alternifolia

is an asteraceae of order
asterales, featuring a flower

in the form of capitula, surrounded
by involucral bracts. Weeds

have names we’ll never know,
but wingstem sticks to unschooled minds

and dog fennel channels bliss,
the smell of boyhood forts in fields.

Glory is goldenrod and crownbeard 
when old fields glow yellow  

against blue-purple tips of towering ironweed
and lavender balls of tall thistle.

Peace comes to the cusp of fall
on white waves of frostweed

and ivory boneset, in pokeweed
and patches of rabbit tobacco.

By the margins of forest, beautyberry
thrive and grape ferns unfurl

their new sensitive fronds. The world
bursts with hidden soul,

and my back yard goes ragged.
Elephant foot in exuberance 

grows ungainly shoots
branching through odd angles

to tiny flowers, which lend
the lawn a purple hue. Weeds

have names we cannot know
expressed in scent and pollen.

Bumblebees consume their sweetness.
Fritillaries share their body.

They toil and spin their secret
lives, they reproduce, and soon

they die. We barely sense a hidden
soul, clothed in rude glory

exceeding kingly robe and throne.
They make on life a modest claim,

but each one bears its own true name
known to God and them alone.

Frostweed (by Don Hunter)

Boneset (by Don Hunter)

Boneset and Camphor (by Don Hunter)

Thistle Flower (by Don Hunter)

Golden Aster (by Don Hunter)

Elephant's Foot (by Don Hunter)

(by Bob Ambrose)