Leading a Nature Walk on 23rd & Yesler

Martha Silano


I’m in favor of the foxglove,
even if parched, even if beside

a row of scraggly marigolds,
a few sad tufts of pitiful corn.

Who planted this scruffy garden?
I’m in favor of the plaintive calls

of invisible hatchlings, whisper
songs drowned out by planes,

by hip-hop blaring from a windows-
down beater teeming with teens.

Of sirens, of scooters, of the barreling
#43, of this city with its some kind

of magenta tubular, with bindweed
overtaking a hedge, with squirrel tail,

with robins cheery-upping despite
disturbance, despite asphalt,

where insects take to the air, eliciting
a profusion of darting swallows.

Some floozy of a blue campanulate,
each stalk blossom-crammed,

each with its pentameter stamen whirl,
each with its Fibonacci pattern of leaves,

golden ratio handed down from an Indian
mathematician, 2/1, 3/2, 5/3, 8/5,

which works as well for the flowering
of an artichoke as it does to program

a computer, a fitting continuity for a place
of engine exhaust, rampant Kentucky Blue,

where lichen clings to the bracts of leaves
like cliffs, where day-glo fir tips swing
in the carbon monoxide breeze. Cradling
a cottonwood leaf in my hand, the smallest

of spiders crawls out and into a world
where carbon levels soar past

400 parts per million, including this stretch
of urban corridor, where maples are busy

making samaras beside Coke cans, empty
bags of Doritos, where nectar-drunken bees

bungle through clover, where, jangling his keys,
a curious neighbor waves from his porch, says hello.


Photo: Langdon Cook

Martha Silano’s most recent collection is Gravity Assist (Saturnalia Books 2019). She is also co-author of The Daily Poet: Day-by-Day Prompts for Your Writing Practice. Martha teaches at Bellevue College and lives in Seattle, WA. Learn more about her work at marthasilano.net.



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