Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Farmer Collects Plants for Louis XVI

by Andrea Wyatt

visiting settlements along the tidal reaches of the Chesapeake

André Michaux sketches patches of tiny pale flowers in moss
with bumpy sweet potatoes at the edges

yellow bees in the chestnut tree leaves

“we cannot sett down a foot, but tread on
Strawberries and fallen mulberrie vines,”

he writes in a small pocket diary stained with saltwater and bear grease

meets men & women who trade beaver skins

roast fat red kernelled ears of corn, dry spicy dark tobacco leaves

gather sea lavender & eat oysters till they keel over

as the canvasbacks and mallards obscure the sun

fly through the wet November sky

they have no idea it is past time to leave

as Louis pushes himself away from his royal table
filled with empty oyster shells & corn.

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