Great Mullein · Lock 39 Trail 

Great Mullein
(Verbascum thapsus)

by Laurie Kincer

One summer’s humble rosette of large,
velvety leaves promises a towering stalk

the next summer, petal to eye with a hiker.
It compels attention and invites touch,

leaves furred in woolly white, mullein from
mollis, Latin for soft. At top, columned buds

open a few at a time into yellow petals
circling orange stamens. Later, thousands

of seed-specks scatter to create a majesty
of mulleins in stony fields, roadsides,

fecund in ignored dirt. A traveler from
Asia and Europe to America, each name

a story—beggar’s flannel, miner’s candle
Aaron’s rod, cuddy’s lungs, Quaker rouge,

witch’s taper. Books call them weeds
but we still turn to them for wounds,

coughs, earache, as rag or torch, and
when our worn boots need soft lining.

Continue Reading

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Traveling Stanzas community arts projects bring poetry to people’s everyday lives through innovative methods and digital platforms.