Sunday, April 27, 2008

"A Dandelion for My Mother" by Jean Nordhaus

It is dandelion season, which means a never ending battle on my hands and knees in my yard, a forked metal tongue in my hand. I never had a problem with dandelions before I owned my own house and had my own yard to cut. In fact, I used to think they were pretty. And they are, kind of, from afar when they are still yellow. It's when they change into that snow-globe cotton ball hat that they become a problem. My mower can't cut them. I have a reel mower - yes, an olden-days push kind - and I love it for its simplicity and quiet and earth-friendliness. But it's no match for some of the more tenacious weeds that make up the majority of what I call my lawn. (Is it any surprise that I don't fertilize or use weed killer? When I weigh the importance of a lush green lawn over clean groundwater, the choice is pretty simple to me.) So I've become a bit obsessed with pulling them out by hand. I actually find it quite relaxing. And all the uprooted dandelions go in the compost bin, not in a plastic trash bag, so I'm recycling them, really.

In any case, here's a poem about dandelions. It celebrates the weed a little too much, I think, but is a good poem regardless.

A Dandelion for My Mother

How I loved those spiky suns,
rooted stubborn as childhood
in the grass, tough as the farmer’s
big-headed children—the mats
of yellow hair, the bowl-cut fringe.
How sturdy they were and how
slowly they turned themselves
into galaxies, domes of ghost stars
barely visible by day, pale
cerebrums clinging to life
on tough green stems. Like you.
Like you, in the end. If you were here,
I’d pluck this trembling globe to show
how beautiful a thing can be
a breath will tear away.

(Jean Nordhaus, from Innocence, Ohio State University Press, 2006)


Anonymous said...

That is a lovely poem.


D'Anne Witkowski said...

Thank you, my dear Amanda, for your props.