Grace Embers :: “weeds found in my garden, June 2020”


Whatever clover’s shortcomings, it adds nitrogen, nourishing the soil, and it is so beloved by honeybees. I wish I were beloved by honeybees. I guess I’m a bit jealous of its clean, simple flowers and the delicate, thorough intimacies bees take with them.

I try to leave clover intact until it’s really getting out of hand—because of the nitrogen thing.



My lover adores these, identifies strongly with them, they make her spirit smile. I have tried to make her see that they are a weed, but to no avail. Big sigh.

I always want to pull them out, but the idea of their living, defiantly, in unintended places somehow inflames all my lover’s righteous sympathies. It’s fun to see her this way, froward and simmering as I taste the fragrance on her scapular. But ripping these disobedient blossoms out of the earth right in front of her will leave her intractable, truculent. So, in the lawn they stay. 

But I confess, the ones growing in the garden end up buried in the compost bin the first time she runs errands without me.


several kinds of grasses. 

I love the smell of fresh-mown grass, it always means the onset of summer to me. I remember mowing lawns as a kid, how my mom thought it an affront to my womanhood somehow, but I was grateful for the pocket cash and for just being wrapped in that smell.



I don’t consider this a real grass. Its asymmetry makes it one of the few children of Nature that I know to be primevally ugly. I’m glad its root systems are so weak compared to other grasses—I don’t have to fight them. Out, out they go!



Not the same thing as a banana tree, but they’re somehow related. I can’t imagine how, with their broad, serving-spoon-shaped leaves and the fragile, pebbled towers of seed pods. I feel like I am at least this different from some of my relatives. 

These seem to need very specific conditions in which to grow. they like gravelly roadsides. I can relate. I was like this once—low to the ground, self-possessed, cute but stubborn.



I showed these to my Turkish friend and she said “Oh, we have these back home, too!” It’s hard for me to believe, so far across the map, such a different place, but I would never challenge my friend on something like this. She’s been back to her home country so seldom since leaving, and every memory she must treasure like a tiny jewel. I cherish this friend, with her odd perceptions and vivid stories.

Maybe they do grow in Turkey? I know less about Turkey than the moon. All I know is, you can put purslane in soup.



I think often about climate change, habitat loss, loss of diversity. Then I look down the long swath of ‘wetlands’ beyond our property, and the forest of milkweeds that grow (in some places taller than me) and the monarchs and other butterflies that thrill to be among them come late spring. It may not look like much, but a field of milkweeds smells great.



It took me a long time to identify this plant. It doesn’t grow upstate. When I held it in my hands, it made the most amazing scent. I thought of the Turkish liqueur, raki, or its Greek counterpart, ouzo. It’s not anise, though.

Someone older and wiser told me what it is. She called it chrysanthemum weed, and I learned this means “artemisia vulgaris”. I immediately felt bad for it, to have to beat such an unflattering name. There was nothing vulgar about it.

This is wormwood, the source of the Green Faerie, absinthe, symbol of artistic rebellion and Goddess of Transformation.

I learned, only just recently, that a museum is somewhere you go to visit your muses. Ha! I should have known. 

I won’t be trying to make any absinthe. But the scent is euphoric, it really is nearly overwhelming, and I couldn’t believe you couldn’t cook something excellent with it, if you could bring yourself to cutting it.

Then I learned the truth. 

I feel it all.

I feel it all.

I am the green transforming fire in the eyes of a young man.

I am a young woman, trapped by a single night’s mistake, forced to choose between a life of art and the work of a mother.

I am an old woman—call me witch, go ahead—keeping ancient, hidden knowledge alive

with the fructifying soil running up my arms, embedding itself in the lines on my palms, staining my fingernails, my soul

We shut our eyes, we run our fingertips up the stem, we breathe in the scent, the scent is inspiration but the taste is liberation

a green upright stalk fragrant and potent, I am, 

if you make a tea of me, and if you drink enough, I will give you back your body 

let your blood flow again

and if you chop me up and till me into the soil, I will come back again and again, not as a single sprout but as a whole new crop

I will be for you a fragrant army.


indian mock strawberry.

Maybe it’s wrong to call it by this name. “Potentilla indica” then. Not tasty but not inedible.



You tricked me—I thought you were wild raspberry, collected your fruit in my old Tupperware, baked you in a tart. You’re not who I thought you were, you’re an interloper (same as me, all of us weeds somewhere), but tart and sweet and bright. 



What I learned from my mother is, wherever an Iris grows, you cherish it. When an iris sprouted, tall and truthful, in the corner of my garden, I left it, as a gift to my mom’s memory, and myself. Some plants are never weeds.


Grace is queer, femme, but still in the closet about her poetry. She grew up in upstate New York, so much so as to have recurring dreams about becoming a gorge near Ithaca. She has too many technical degrees, and just wishes her engineering career would leave her enough time to write her sci-fi sapphic romances in peace.