by Don Colburn


Until I heard the names in my own voice

I never saw them whole: chickweed, toothwort,

May apple, Dutchman's breeches, Indian pipe.

A list was my father's way of witnessing;

it made a flower real. And this afternoon

in the weedy meadow by the towpath,

I'm jotting odd names on a scrap of paper

for no one in particular, myself maybe

or my father. Back then I let him teach me

to look down at the ground for stars,

bells, shades of blue. He was never happier

than when we looked up accuracy's myriad names

and he wrote them out in slanted letters.

Now, over and over, like a child,

I say gill-over-the-ground, gill-

over-the-ground, gill-over-the-ground,

and in the saying see it blossom again

inside its spilled blue name.

-from As If Gravity Were a Theory (Cider Press).