Stem and Leaf                                                                                                                                            For Great-great Grandmother

Almost a decade now

for these pastures to return

to prairie although never

virgin again but peopled

with new generations

black eyed Susans,

purple prairie clover

white snakeroot, wild strawberries


this year we planted Jerusalem

artichokes to help restore

native flora, flagged Illinois

bundleflower’s cerise cousins

the sensitive briers blooming

for the first time, broadcast

coneflower seed ahead of

hot rain


St. John’s Wort and butterfly

milkweed have returned as well

sown by quail or bluebird, finch

or oriole and this week the blessing

of Big Bluestem that used to anchor

the primordial prairies with roots

ten feet deep begins to send

up its chestnut awns


once a Mandan Sioux woman

looked out from her soddy

onto the rolling Flint Hills and

saw what I see now but

little comfort for her great

distance from the longhouses

of her childhood


so for this great great grandmother

I celebrate and save these fragile links

that hold us together leaf and stem

pod and petal with their own elusive

fragrance borne on a five o clock

morning breeze whispering how

though passed through so many

generations it is still the land

that binds us gift of Mother Earth

the soil our native home