Spring 2023 • Vol. XLV No. 2 Poetry |

Inflorescense

Visions of Clotho through windy stands of fescue 
and bluestem. Seedheads lean and sway 

as rivers of wind run through them, sunlight 
shingles each floret of seed. In the long grass — 

the sojourning breezes, a ripening abundance. 
Inflorescence, they call it, each panicle of seed.

These grasses are packed for the rest of their lives.
Seed overwinters and spring revives. And Clotho

somehow survives an uneasy alliance with her dire 
sisters, freakish weather. Broken-armed, spindle-

tipped, she’s lost her girlish ease. A sapling birch 
dangles above her like a mother, the burr oaks 

fatten. Anise hyssop and penstemon beardtongue 
hold their own. The ruby-throated hummingbird

is a whip of emerald thread. She visits twice a day. 
Clotho’s my witness as I knock along with my 

red wheelbarrow. A shovel bells the empty hull  
on the way out; returns in silence, brimming with

invasives: akebia, ivy, bittersweet, the wrong sort
of honeysuckle and wisteria. Swords of catbriar 

lash for a last bead of blood before the bin. 
What with the wind in the grass and sudden

flights of blue moths, I could swear to her breath 
at my cheek as I sink the thin hasp of coneflower, 

sunflower, fine grit of cardinal, mountain mint, lupine. 
Bluestem-fescue-bluestem for the fattening promise 

of seed, feast for the warblers before they leave.  
Photo of Catherine Staples

Catherine Staples is the author of The Rattling Window (The Ashland Poetry Press, 2013), winner of the McGovern Prize, and a chapbook, Never a Note Forfeit (Seven Kitchens Press, 2011). Her poems have appeared in Poetry, The Southern Review, The Yale Review, the Academy of American Poets, and elsewhere. She teaches at Villanova University.

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