Voices

June 11, 2006

Gardeners who've fought creeping Charlie and other unwanted plants may sympathize with James McKean from Iowa as he takes on bindweed, a cousin to the two varieties of morning glory that appear in the poem. It's an endless struggle, and of course, the bindweed wins. -- Ted Kooser

There is little I can do

besides stoop to pluck them

one by one from the ground,

their roots all weak links,

this hoard of Lazaruses popping up

at night, not the Heavenly Blue

so like silk handkerchiefs,

nor the Giant White so timid

in the face of the moon,

but poor relations who visit

then stay. They sleep in my garden.

Each morning I evict them.

Each night more arrive, their leaves

small, green shrouds,

reminding me the mother root

waits deep underground

and I dig but will never find her

and her children will inherit

all that I've cleared

when she holds me tighter

and tighter in her arms.

Ted Kooser is U.S. poet laureate. Reprinted from "Headlong," University of Utah Press, 1987, by permission of the author, and first published in "Poetry Northwest," Vol. 23, No. 3, 1982. Copyright (c) 1982 by James McKean.

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