Today the bloodroot is blooming along Brookwood Drive in Elkin – its leaf an unfolding hand, its 10-point star of petals. Every Spring I wonder if I will find it again, or will it be overcome by the the choke of invasives. Every Spring it rises. Tenacious, faithful, humble, generous, this April it gives the gift of itself to the earth making new.
Just once I watched a naturalist dig one up (from an extensive spread). He sliced into the rhizome like a nubby finger; one then another drop of thick red-orange life juice bled onto his palm. One small plant, all metaphor.
Watch mid-April for the liver-lobed leaves,
a week later the flower that rises from duff,
a star, lace bonnet, last memory of snow;
this patch of blossoms grows smaller each spring
overtaken by honeysuckle and poison ivy –
I wonder how long it can go on blooming.
Each year our lives grow smaller as well,
overgrown by everything we thought made us strong,
thatch of vines spelled should and shall
too dense to admit the April sun.
How long until we stop imagining spring,
’til indifference sucks us dry as winter?
I want to free this flower, lift from strictures
to spread its rhizomes across a dozen wild places
wider than I can begin to discover,
but won’t my touch break its delicate stem?
Fear is the red-orange drop that oozes
out from the heart that hesitates.
Help me to feel the truth of roots
thrust like blood into earth’s desire;
make me believe dead branches bud, then
take my fingers where warmth begins –
this webwork of birth has grown so light
raising it will require two hands.
[first appearance in Changing Woman, Main Street Rag Publishing, 2006; also published in in HeartLodge Vol. 3, 2007]