• Jennie Meyer

Artemisia Vulgaris

(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.”