In a pandemic conference on Zoom,

a Lenape man asked why schools don’t teach

kids Earth skills—which weeds to eat,

how to build soil, split firewood,

or companion plant trees that fire

or loggers have orphaned of their mothers.


On this perfect morning,

the native plants hug the dirt road

downstream from the beaver pond—

nannyberry, hazelnut, chokecherry,

elderberry, dogbane, and fleabane,

rich forage for deer and me.


Marx was right and wrong

about the idiocy of rural life.

The city’s thick parade

of human limbs and quips may hone

muscle and tongue, keep one humble

and hip to each new thing.


And it’s true there’s not a thought in my head

worthy of you, Reader,

just names of plants I’ve met in books

or out walking, the scent-notes of cinnamon

ferns over late mice inviting sexton

beetles under the porch. I’m listening


for other tongues, breathing smoky air

with the winged, furred, petaled beings right here,

the us of this latitude, whatever remains

of our tenuous lifespans,

our heart roots

woven underground.