May/June 2020 • Vol. XLII No. 3 Nature’s Nature 2020May 1, 2020 |

Sumac

with lines borrowed from James Wright A scarlet staghorn sumac ignites the ditch and marks an end to one more teeming season in these woods. The furry wand is called a drupe, its fray of female fruits unfurling rouge that dries to purple, strong enough when crushed to bleed deep streaks through marble slabs it slept beside, long ago when both were precious cargo from the east. Lending hints of lemon to Roman meat or soaked in water for a tangy drink, the seeds still speak to me of flinty hills, a place both on a map and in the mind’s small boudoir of favorite lines. I was a girl just down the road from the man who wrote the poem, “The Sumac in Ohio,” and when I came of age in words, I married his enduring spell of rivers, mills, our hills scraped white by monster draglines, and dusted in the mist of steel spit and soot. What the sumac was to us was gallery and garden of all that should but wouldn’t find a curatorial eye. And when he wrote, You cannot even carve a girl

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By Leslie Adrienne Miller

with lines borrowed from James Wright A scarlet staghorn sumac ignites the ditch and marks an end to one more teeming season in these woods. The furry wand is called […]

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