Mar 24, 2017

Today’s poem is “Wildflowers” by Betsy Sholl, who was Maine’s third poet laureate. She has published eight books of poetry, most recently Otherwise Unseeable (University of Wisconsin Press 2014). She lives in Portland, Maine, and teaches in the MFA Program of Vermont College.

She writes “I lived in Big Stone Gap, Virginia for several years, in a valley among the Appalachian Mountains. There were wildflowers along the side of every road, and moving there from Boston, I was amazed. For a while I kept a flower notebook, listing all the names. I guess those wildflowers came to represent a different kind of value--as opposed to the cultivated or hot house world.”

by Betsy Sholl

And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing…
-Revelations 9:4

Consider the way they shudder in the aftermath
of coal trucks, farm trucks, the fast red car,

the way they sway in the backwind
of passing’s vacuum, bending into the void,

the small rustle of what’s left in the wake,
whatever is said on the edge of our leaving—

chicory, ironweed, aster, thistle, Joe-pye,
poorest of the poor—the way they stand

as if anonymous, knowing themselves
to be the blur passersby barely see,

the way they disappear when winter storms in,
and then come crowding back in spring,

the ground loving them the way it does not
love the golf course with its sleek chemical green—

coreopsis, milkweed, bittersweet, goldenrod,
sumac, wild carrot—

the way they bow to the passing waves
that release their seeds, needing only a little wind

to lift them across the field, a little rain,
a small crack in the hardpan to grow,

to possess the earth, as scripture says
they will, don’t worry.

Poem copyright © 2014 Betsy Sholl.
Reprinted from Otherwise Unseeable,
by permission of Betsy Sholl.