Lady’s Slipper and Lambs’ Tongues
Scrambling up through the
field of spring beauties, I broke twigs
on the scrub oaks, collected cockleburs on my pant legs,
and risked poison oak, until
at the edge of the forest I collapsed at the base of the crippled maple.
One limb flung out near the ground as broad as our milk cow,
covered with thick chartreuse moss and lacy licorice root ferns.
Straddling the limb, I lifted the moss and tore out the root:
a taste of anise, wild and tangy in my mouth.
I was as wild as the flowers, that
grew in profusion amid the grass and moss.
I picked Johnny-jump-ups, Lambs’ Tongues, and the elusive Lady’s Slipper.
Back down the hill I ran, hands full of half-wilted wildflowers.
My proffered nosegay plopped in a canning jar of water on
the windowsill above the kitchen sink.
Looking back, I know I’ve been separated too long from
the geography of my childhood,
and now I venture beyond the garden fence with
trepidation and longing to be somewhere more tame.
Maralee Gerke lives and writes in Madras, Oregon. She is and avid reader and gardener. She describes herself as a work in progress. Her poems have been published in Calyx, Exit Thirteen, Moonset, Bathtub Gin, Anthology, Nerve Cowboy, Avocet, and Tigers Eye. She has published two books of poems and has had poetry and prose accepted in several anthologies. Her work can be seen online at Shadow Poetry, Long Story Short, and Moontown Café. She recently recorded 4 poems for the Oregon Poetic Voices Project. They can be heard at oregonpoeticvoices.org One of her poems “Refuge”, was recently selected to be printed as a limited edition broadside by the Penland School of Crafts.