(Sacred herb to the Goddess Artemis)
A woman on the radio tells
how her odd old grandmother
moved from Korea to live with them.
She survived men’s wars and occupation,
and so ripped up all the flowers
in their garden, “useless” to humans,
planted healing mugwort instead,
to harvest and grind into rice cakes
and serve to her grandchildren.
Mugwort thrives in the median strips
of highways, emerges at the sharp edges
in the cuts between curb and earth,
in broken places.
I dig some up in the berm between
the ex-CIA agent’s house
and ours, next to his red dumpster,
place them on the screen porch
in a large planter— a living altar
for my summer meditations,
drink its leaves in an evening tea,
ask it to teach us, tend our fractured
cultures like gardens of flowers.
Serve it to my son who curls
into sleep on the couch with a migraine
from the weight of this pressing world.
I cry then, making supper, to hear
his brooding fingers soothing
the black and white keys.
“Mom, your mugwort stuff is strange,”
he later tells me, “I woke up
playing a new tune.”