Poverty Oatgrass · Old Carriage Trail

Poverty Oat Grass / Subsistence

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by Haylee Schwenk

This plant can grow anywhere—sun, shade,
sand, shallow topsoil, no water for weeks. It’s like
living on government cheese, powdered milk,
mcintosh apples that ended up in golden delicious bags,
chicken necks making the broth for soup.

This plant is putting out flowers half the summer,
waiting for cross-fertilization, but just in case
it turns out to be a bad year here’s a self-
pollinating bud in reserve. It’s like hoping that man
will keep a job, putting the baby in a dresser drawer to sleep,

handing down the shoes through all six kids.
This plant twirls curly dry leaves around its base—
protective, decorative, maybe a fire hazard—
making a party out of death. It’s like scrounging enough sugar
for a raisin pie, borrowing a suit for the funeral,
splitting a beer after dinner when the kids have gone to bed.

 

 

 

 

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