Flick sharply on the shells, and the cottony insides come flying, so much packed in, eager to be freed from the casings, a gossamer filament cloud mass of soft-spun seed stuff. There’s an explosion, a quiet one, and what’s released-- slow-sifting, too fine for gathering, but alive, most definitely alive.
Other things impinge—that one who died by his own hand, the other who overdosed— but with cattails, rattling in hot wind, it’s impossible to not be present, opening one, another—temporary midwife at the willow marsh, Coyote Creek, north fork, alone, in March, eastern San Diego County--
charged with sending this dream fluff pouring aloft, as if it had all day, which it does, to rise above cottonwood and smoke tree—anonymous, precise, finite—to float toward Mexico or cross the mountains to Indio. Pray it finds water to set down roots.
Helen Wickes lives in Oakland, California and grew up on a farm in Pennsylvania. She is the author of four poetry books: In Search of Landscape, 2007, Sixteen Rivers Press; Dowser's Apprentice and Moon Over Zabriskie, both 2014 from Glass Lyre Press; World as You Left It, 2015, Sixteen Rivers Press.