Jerry Mirskin
Palmetto


It was me. I did it.
In a stringy wood in Florida
I tore it from its mother.
Sawing away with my motel key
I stole, stealing from the green, green world.
I don't know if I invoked the sacred name
of sorrow, or the ragged name of fear
I remember striding into the hospital
with its head down by my side.
And how the woman in the next bed
recognized it immediately.
It's on the list, she said. And meant a better one
than you could ever find in a hospital ward
in Florida, or any other state, for that matter.
What we did then was just look at it.
The little saw palmetto with its green
and juvenile crown of fans.
A small shy prince. Almost apologetic
even as it lifted and spread its bright deck
and serene face.
Have you ever seen one? This one
had already begun to be a light in the world.
Taking its place between two women,
one sick and one injured.
Endangered species. I still remember
how it looked, as if being endangered meant
that it knew from the very beginning
what sadness was, and what its work
would be. Far from home.
Far from the green, green world.