Summer 2003

When It Rains, by Sue Smith-Heavenrich
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,


Habaneros strut

like roosters, they think they are

such hombres calientes.

Beans snap,

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

Inca Gold

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.

Thank you.

– Mariana S. Tupper

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