Phyllis M. Teplitz
THE REDWOOD PLAGUE
My son came home from camping
in the Humboldt Redwoods fresh green
sprouts springing from his head.
Before the end of day I felt
my own saplings push up
In spite of attempts
to uproot them my fast-growing sprouts
stayed firmly planted.
One after another the experts passed
on me doctor to botanist
arborists to psychiatrist
and finally to the Department
of Communicable Disease
who threw up their hands.
But the word had spread.
Hearing a hullabaloo I looked out
to find paparazzi.
swarming the yard the street.
Phyllis, how did this aberration begin?
Can I touch them? Will you give me a sprout
for my garden?
Can you explain why this condition didn’t spread?
How does it feel? I snapped the blinds closed
and took a pill.
The graft of pippins and cloning permission
I turned down. Though I sold the movie rights
to MGM for a mil
I wanted the whole affair to disappear.
In the morning
such a heady lightness
the yard all quiet
any hint of redwood scent gone.
—from Rattle #31, Summer 2009