FNS : Weeding by Janet M. Powers


Every Friday night we feature a short story, essay, personal narrative, poem, spoken word, or short film for your enjoyment.

Tonight’s poem is from Janet M. Powers

Today I think about reproduction,
not the human sort, for I’m
way beyond that, but I want
to know which green whorl,
lying like stranded starfish
in my driveway, is spawn
of miniature tumbleweeds
that charmed me, rolling across
my Pennsylvania lawn last fall.
And purslane, how did it so
stealthily escape the salad patch
to drop a hundred tiny purslets
into these coarse gray stones?

A car comes down the alley;
I hear the driver’s thoughts
though he doesn’t say a word:
“Why doesn’t she just pave
it over like everyone else?
Why pick them out by hand
when a spot of Roundup would do?”
I can’t reply but want to say,
“I believe in the permeable:
water must flow into earth
and not run off bearing trash
down to the Chesapeake Bay.
That water should be clean,
not laced with chemicals
poisoning fish and human genes.”

My hands are black, my nails
caked with dark dirt. I hear
a condescending voice, my mother,
who always thought happiness
was one rung up the social ladder:
“Your hands are rough, unkempt.
You’ll never have nice nails.”
So be it. I don’t like gloves.
I like to feel the gentle tug
as roots come free, fingering
the smallest weeds as they emerge.
Hopeless, this one, who finds an
overcast day just right for weeding.

Janet M. Powers, Professor Emerita of Interdisciplinary Studies and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Gettysburg College, Pennsylvania, taught for 50 years in the fields of South Asian literature and civilization, women’s studies and peace studies. She has published her poetry in The Antietam Review, The White Egret, Mediphores, Bibliophilus, Footsteps, and The Little Red Tree Anthology. Her chapbook (Finishing Line Press, 2009) is entitled As Difficult to Subdue as the Wind.

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