Oldtimers say you taste nice brined,

pale spring fingers chopped and jarred.

And once they plucked your brittle veins

for fall pea-shooters, pirate swords.

Now the canopy of your foliage

yields sweet relief in summer

for free.


Newcomers feed you vinegar and Roundup.

They say you tunnel under roads, tilt bridges,

evaporate a mortgage from a fifty yards.

Heavy machinery should do the trick,

backhoes or rented goats or maybe aphids?

They draw the property line

right here.


I found you streamside nudging lilies,

rhizomes thirsty, shoots pink and pert.

I scoured Wiki and ran for the mattock.

Itadori in your native land: strong plant.

Uprooted, you will not be moved again.

Nurtured noxious weed,

not weed.





a shy spring in '96

my lot brittle and unbearing

I craved ambers, corals, rich vermilion

and wandered


magnolia pledged a punctual flower

quince fecundity

one very sturdy rhododendron

just endurance, then


a rasp against my ready hand

bead of crimson, tiny hurt

full delicious body flush

rugged rippled rugosa


my beds aroused—ablaze

with weeks on end of consummate bloom

so often and so many times

who knew?


summer roots rent firm and long

autumn hips replete

an insistent settling, ours

unspoken nuptial


and all winter I anticipated

a singular efflorescence

with warm magenta showers

to fill the pane


a gusty spring in '97

I woke up

to limbs outstretched but reckoning

the fields beyond my reach


fledgling shoots, three leaves, six

resemblance unmistakable

you'd craved only wild dominion 

and wandered


Katherine J. Barrett is a writer and editor living in rural Nova Scotia, Canada. Her work has appeared in The Antigonish Review, Quiddity International Literary Journal, Existere Journal of Arts and Literature and other publications. Katherine is also editor in chief at Understorey, a literary magazine by and about Canadian women.