Poetry: Natural Selection

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Photo Credit: brewbooks via Compfight

I’ve been packing my classroom for a move to fifth grade next year. That means a change in buildings and leaving the colleagues that I have worked with for the last 9 years. True, in a small school district like ours, we’ll still see each other, but this will be a change.

And as school has let out, I’ve had some delightful outdoor work to get the home place ready for summer. Weeding, digging, scything, planting, pruning, trimming are all about bringing plants under some kind of control, which they are not inclined to do on their own.

Both moving and my outdoor work made me think about my attempt to control and alter the world around me, to strive for (impose?) my order and my design. Which brought me to this poem.

Natural Selection

What is a weed?
you ask. Which is
a good question to pose
as you sort plants
in the garden. For instance,
this flaxen flower
brimming with beetles
amongst the beans?
Or this oak seedling
whose earnest taproot
has pierced its bronzed shell
to dive deep into the earth.
It would outlast you
by many lifetimes,
would over the years
transform the strawberries
into a forest. Is a weed
simply something you pull now
while you still have a chance?

Steve Peterson, 2014



4 thoughts on “Poetry: Natural Selection

  1. Steve, your post is thought provoking, and your poem elegant…but hearing you read the poem…that is the. icing. on. the. cake! Made my day. You make me want to write AND garden. 🙂 Thank you, friend.

    • Jan!
      So great to hear from you. I would have loved to have been closer so I could see you and Kim and Vicki in Brooklyn the other week. What fun!

      It’s been great to have a bit more time to write and, well, just BE in this big ol’ world, which seems to be the source of most of the poems I try to write — that moment when an image stops flickering and flitting, but condenses, collects, and soaks into the ground.

      I have a post that’s trying to be written about the last poetry unit we did in our classroom. It hasn’t been able to form itself yet. The kids wrote some superb poems and I need to think about what made them so good.

  2. With a garden at home, the land lab at school, and our plot in the community garden, weeds have been much on my mind. I have let the milkweed in the land lab go, hoping for monarchs.

    • That is A LOT of weeding!

      And isn’t it cool how a decision to NOT do something can yield such a gift later in the year? I love how life fills in all of the spaces between things without any effort on our part.

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