I’m trying to get lost
somewhere south along the mountain
when I break through a tangle
of fox grapes & stop short:
an insurgent sea of mayapples
bobs in the breeze, a minature forest.
I remember the stories I’ve heard
about human-shaped roots
& how they’ve yielded a new
weapon against cancer.
I think of them crowded together
in the stoney dark.
We who eulogize private virtue
& small acts of kindness,
have we forgotten the glory
of the grand gesture? I stand
as immobile as that line of tanks
at the Gate of Heavenly Peace,
unable to go farther without
crushing one or two.
Their parasols make a brave show,
but they keep their faces down
& their yellow focus on the fruit
they know will come, if only for a few—
fruit that may or may not be digestible,
flowers that may or may not self-pollinate,
depending on the encampment,
& insects that may or may not visit,
since the mayapples offer
neither nectar nor desirable pollen,
& seem to persist because a few bees bumble
& forget where they are.