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Laura Newbern



Man in Woods

     (Virtual Native Plant Walk)


Halfway interested,

I caught the names of two plants.

Blue-Eyed Grass.

Widow’s Cross.

The man who spoke them was

a student of their names,

and young and heavy-

set, and seeming kind.

Blue-eyed grass, he said,

leaning in, isn’t

grass -- it’s an iris.

Banjo music, then; little twang.

Widow’s Cross --

he said the name; someone

swung the camera low.

The flowers are densely packed,

he said. He knelt. In May,

he said. I heard his puff-

breath. The leaves, he breathed,

crowd the seedy stems.

Behind him, light, bright sounds --

a stream. And the sight,

then, of the ridge, rising

into a thin-air American 

nowhere. So many things

to see, and know, and names

for the soft-spoken, half-

attended to --

Widow, eye. Strings,

air. Burly, soft. Likely

not yet married -- what

I thought, watching him

walk on, not naming now,

down a logging road, the camera

following. The music, too.

The ‘Y’ of his suspenders

on his big back. Brave, I thought.

You might just save us all,

I thought, walking now myself,

across my quiet house,

past Umberto Eco’s book of lists

(think Homer’s ships; all their

captains --) into a brighter room.




Rebecca Priestley

David Toomey 

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