“The Redwood Plague” by Phyllis M. Teplitz

Phyllis M. Teplitz


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
                prickly stems.
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

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