BY TODD DILLARD
Tickseed, pot of gold, goldenwave—
its other names I, too, learned
to despise. Every afternoon
I stormed gas station alleys, excavated
sidewalk cracks, grasshopper fields,
saffron flutters, tore each out of earth.
I’d spread them across the kitchen table,
compared them to the picture
Xeroxed from an encyclopedia, never certain
the one I picked was right
until I brought my project poster to my teacher
and she shook her head for the 2nd, 5th, 7th time.
“Do it again.” Sunbeams, bray of eighteen-wheelers,
bee stings, gravel spray as I stooped into drainage
ditches by highways, searching, searching—
coreopsis, o corpse is, so I corpse,
pulling over whenever a canary flit
past the corner of my eye,
leaping out of cars at red lights
as girlfriends screamed Get in, get in! You have to drive!
Years until I finally found one—tucked
in a plastic sleeve, tumbling out of pages,
a bookmark my mother might’ve plucked in college,
a single, perfectly preserved crown of petals
poised there, swimming in Faulkner—
her favorite—whom I still haven’t read,
though her yellowing books have become
my yellowing books, though wild
fields within them wait.