Health And Safety

Entry by: Martin Willitts Jr

8th October 2015
(Asclepias syriaca) Folk medicine for kidney problems

All rain-drenched spring through lonely summer, I waited.
I waited like a Buddhist. Like a sparrow waiting for worms
to float to the surface after a torrential rain.

Patience, my heart and mind, do not be jumpy Monarchs
in an endless open field of white milkweed, wait.

All through high temperatures, I waited
like a drill sergeant scanning new-meat recruits
to determine if he could whip them into shape,
only to be fodder for gunfire.

I counted the few individual raindrops during this transition,
waiting, while black crickets rubbed their legs into music,
seasons grinded knives. Not once did that bulb open.

In one of my moments of weakness —
a bathroom break from blotted kidney,
or chasing the black feral cat away from the birdfeeder
where it was practicing silence and meditation
to encourage a sparrow to fall into its path —
the milkweed opened its surprised mouth and released,

tiny spores went crazy indirect directions. Released
as men dying in far-off lands
waiting for their end to come and taking too long to die.
The milkweed drifted into that merging.

The milkweed spores did not question, nor asked
the purpose of life — it simply surrendered. No waiting.

We ask why, the seed, the feral cat, the butterfly,
the soldiers — all die —
during that questioning, I missed the milkweed opening.
The butterflies never did arrive.
Rain clouds brought false hope of rain.
Bitter months unfolded their tents
occupying the land, snow fell as seeds.
Before I knew it, winter had planted itself
as a guard at a crossing with orders
to shoot first, ask questions after.