Issue 164, Winter 2002-2003
1. It is not the man who has too little, but the man who
craves more, that is poor. (Seneca)
Maidenhair borders the upward trail,
trims the margin braided green
and lives here—thrives—in the dark
beneath these arches, in this
chancellery of pine. The mulch
of shaken leaf and needle showers down,
is dampened black by runoff:
the debris that feeds the fern.
I hazard up the path
and pick a wayward frond.
No life should be so simple.
Fern sucks upon its nutritive
and never wants for more, flaunts its weave
of leisure. I cannot call it good—
although infusions ease catarrh,
and thrown on glowing coals
it imparts an aura of protection.
I smear the sample in my hands,
pray the stain will satisfy. I said I'd make it up
the mountain, but I can't believe
that I (apart from any humming).