American Life in Poetry
'Bindweed,' a poem selected by Ted Kooser, former US poet laureate.
Gardeners who've fought creeping Charlie and other unwanted plants may sympathize with James McKean from Iowa as he takes on bindweed, a cousin to the two varieties of morning glory that appear in the poem. It's an endless struggle, and in the end, of course, the bindweed wins.
Ted Kooser, US poet laureate, 2004-2006
There is little I can do
besides stoop to pluck them
one by one from the ground,
their roots all weak links,
this hoard of Lazaruses popping up
at night, not the Heavenly Blue
so like silk handkerchiefs,
nor the Giant White so timid
in the face of the moon,
but poor relations who visit
then stay. They sleep in my garden.
Each morning I evict them.
Each night more arrive, their leaves
small, green shrouds,
reminding me the mother root
waits deep underground,
and I dig but will never find her,
and her children will inherit
all that I've cleared
when she holds me tighter
and tighter in her arms.
Reprinted from 'Headlong,' University of Utah Press, 1987, by permission of the author, and first published in 'Poetry Northwest,' Vol. 23, No. 3, 1982. Copyright 1982 by James McKean, whose book 'Home Stand' is a memoir published by Michigan State University Press.