Dwarf Ginseng

This entry is part 24 of 29 in the series Wildflower Poems


Dwarf Ginseng by Jennifer Schlick
Dwarf Ginseng by Jennifer Schlick (click to see larger)

Panax trifolius

Because the root is round
& no bigger than a nut
it is not worth its weight in gold,
though still prized as medicine.
Had it limbs like a man
we might sing out its name—
little brother ‘sang! Instead,
we step over its perfect clouds,
oblivious to the mystery
of its androdioeciousness,
why some umbels should be all male
& others hermaphroditic,
how that little knot of a root
unties itself from year to year:
the flower fading to pink
shrinks & shrivels with the rest
of the above-ground parts, & when
it re-sprouts the following spring,
it’s no longer the same sex—
how it got that way
& why it persists, dwarf,
unmaker of aches.

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