I don't remember when that wild Potentilla, a coarse
and bristly plant, began to spread too far against
my father's garden.
In fall, before an intermittent pain bit down
to mark his time, no one paid attention
to a dormant shrub crouched beneath his porch.
In mid-july the Potentilla's limbs drooped
with paper lantern buds and crept along his house.
Imperial yellow blossoms burst upon the stairs.
On stems of seven leaflets, in the gamble of life,
those five-petalled blooms
held out their lucky hands.
When crazy cells sank roots deep in father's liver
our hopes blew down and left a taste
like bits of newsprint settling in our mouths.
Because it seemed the only action he could take,
or because the Potentilla's bright assertion
built a confidence beyond reconciliation,
he pointed to a spade for me
to pry out and keep this living gift. Now,
where grass drops off a bluff beyond
my house, father's wild plant rustles
near the edge and, gripping down against a beckoning
to fall, it holds.
© 1995 by Norm Goodwin
Norm Goodwin resides in Seattle where he divides his time between activities most people approach with fear and apprehension: dentistry and poetry. His work has appeared in such journals as Jacaranda Review, West Wind Review, and Fine Madness.