Kim Roberts :: “The Invasive Weed Syndicate” and “The Glass Flowers at Harvard”

The Invasive Weed Syndicate

               Shepherd’s Purse
A rude ring of lobed leaves cling
to the bottom of the stem, and from this stage
the actors rise in heart-shaped pods
and strip to white petticoats by the open road.

               Bull Thistle
A ratchety stem with spiny leaves splays;
at the top of each spear, a green gumdrop
garbed in angry spikes wears a hot pink mohawk,
and the bees hone in and get drunk.

Tight oval buds covered in a coarse white beard
pop open to reveal a tiny white flower
like a loose corona following the sun.
Little prospector: beware the claim jumper.

Leaves like elongated spoons climb,
alternating, left and right, as if marching
in single file.  The buds droop at the top
as if from shame.  So much
is beyond our control.

Tri-corner stems shoot from underground tubers,
a deep blackish-red, that tunnel
under the crops. This mission is a go:
pulling them up leaves the nutlets behind,
pulling them just makes it worse.

Originally published in Blue Lyra Review.


The Glass Flowers at Harvard

The transverse section of a water lily ovary
is delicate and ornate as a snowflake
but tinged cerulean at the outer edges.

Individual balls of pollen with spikes
are magnified to enormous sizes
and resemble translucent blowfish.

Wool sower galls from a white oak,
quercus alba, the growths partially cut away,
form around a glass wasp.

Lilies in bloom have root systems
tangled as a knot of Gorgon hair.
Goldenrod crowds its tiny lobed florets. 

Nutmeg stems bow low under the weight
of heavy, waxy, yellow fruit.
Button-wood, witch hazel, 

the ratchety stalk of the small-flowered
Agrimony.  The leggy Lord Anson’s
Blue Pea has wiry corkscrews

at the ends of each leaf stalk.
The cashew fruit has puppet heads.
A maple leaf in autumn hues wears a red-orange

it took the Blaschkas a decade to perfect.
After the father died, the son continued on
alone.  Over 800 plant species, flame worked,

enameled in a wash of metal oxide.
The wetlands weed known as Floating Heart,
Pigeon-berry, also known as Sky Flower,

4,400 models in all, forever blooming. 
Laid out in rows of wooden cases,
a life’s work, glass under glass.

Originally published in Pixie Dust and All Things Magical (Authorspress, India).


Kim Roberts is the editor of the anthology By Broad Potomac’s Shore: Great Poems from the Early Days of our Nation’s Capital (University of Virginia Press, 2020), selected by the East Coast Centers for the Book for the 2021 Route 1 Reads program as the book that “best illuminates important aspects” of the culture of Washington, DC. She is the author of A Literary Guide to Washington, DC: Walking in the Footsteps of American Writers from Francis Scott Key to Zora Neale Hurston (University of Virginia Press, 2018), and five books of poems, most recently The Scientific Method (WordTech Editions, 2017). Her chapbook, Corona/Crown, a cross-disciplinary collaboration with photographer Robert Revere, is forthcoming from WordTech Editions in 2023.