Arum Italicum

by Robin Woolman

Like a pilgrim on my knees
I creep among the throng.
I stab and pull methodically
the veined leaves like hands
begging alms, or palms pressing
close in prayer,succored
by their tiny corms as deep
and crafty as belief. Each year
more Lords-and-ladies appear.
“There is no stemming
their colonies of poison,” botanists
warn,“but temporary abatement,
maybe. Wear protection: gloves,
mask, and isolate what you glean.”
Unseen the tubers divide, thrive:
Hydra teeth from which the Spartoi
Arum spring. Armed with trowel, knowledge,
and time assigned by quarantine, I dig and pull
and listen to the viral news. The smallest thing
can bring a species to its knees. So I crawl
believing with each weed removed–
a prayer is said for all.

Robin Woolman is a performer and teacher of circus skills in Portland, Oregon. The pandemic means she is acting less and weeding more, teaching less and writing more. Her short play, “Worship,” was presented last fall as part of Portland’s participation in Climate Change Action Theater. Illustration by VR Ragesh, who is a noted cartoonist from Kerala.

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