Inca Gold, by Mariana S. Tupper
When It Rains
When it rains
thirsty squash pick up their roots,
dance-splash mud on radish leaves.
Cat-faced tomatoes and snap peas tango,
dip-swirl past rutabagas, kale,
like roosters, they think they are
such hombres calientes.
poppies shake, oats sow
their wild seeds
when it rains.
– Sue Smith-Heavenrich
“Recently I heard Joan Dye Gussow, who studies and writes about the energetics, economics, and irrationalities of global food production, discussing some of these problems in a radio interview. She mentioned the alarming fact that pollen from genetically engineered corn is so rapidly contaminating all other corn that we may soon have no naturally bred corn left in the United States.”
– Barbara Kingsolver, Small Wonders, p. 107
I hold in my hands three cobs of corn.
They are rare, native strains:
GMO-free – at least for now
– I say, checking the direction of the wind.
For several thousand years
this corn was tended by many hands.
For several hundred years, fewer and fewer hands
have made it possible for some to get to me.
I am tempted to lock these cobs away in a vault
like jewels, or priceless artifacts.
I have read about seeds found in tombs
that stayed viable for centuries.
But I don’t know how to ensure that
– and anyway my stomach can’t wait so long
for another harvest. These seeds need to be grown
out, exposed to wind and soil, rain and sun.
I must trust them to stretch up their long,
pointed leaves. I must allow their kernels to fatten
within their sheaths – where, swelling and bursting,
they will overflow with golden milk that pours
into the mouths of my small family as we kneel
in the garden, drinking in the gifts from the ancient sky.
Before my belly is full, may I look up at the tall stalks
and remember to gather more cobs for next summer.
– Mariana S. Tupper