The WINTERGREEN Grows

Lisa Short

Gaultheria procumbens

 

Home is flora. Not the pleasure of growing wintergreen, but the plant itself—thick, verdant leaves with perfume of pink mint like Canadian candies. The faint smell of Clark’s Teaberry gum.

Blushing boxberries, shy berries, worshipped by emerald fans. But first, the flowers: egg-shaped blossoms, tiny lady’s slippers, ballerina slippers, creeping heath finding sunshine in a virgin oak stand.

 

A white pine was in a memory, leaking sap. In Maine, probably along Bog Brook where gravity pressures still water to rush over granite and rose quartz. A pheasant flies out of the prehistoric ferns to take a drink. A memory of what? 

 

Home is flora, never grown alone, waiting for the arrival of berry charity. A house bursting with false facts that the future cannot see. Watch quietly and wait. It begins under the pine, feeding light to its limbs.

 

A tree, a brook, a dilapidated mill. An old beam is a dam in the memory, though waterless, just wet leaves in a stone pit; and a swaying pine and the image of needles stabbing where?—through it: offer the checkerberries as sacrifice. 

 

(It is hard not to find artifacts of the sawmill scattered among the Christmas colors of summer. Rotten wood, wash bins, river glass, rusty nails, hidden beneath wintergreen.)

Lisa Short works as the Graduate Admissions Coordinator for the English Department at George Mason University. She graduated from UMaine in 2012 and is a current MFA student at GMU where she is studying poetry. Lisa’s work is forthcoming in FEAST magazine and has been published in The Open Field Volumes I and II, and STANZA.

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