Irish Weeds: a found poem

Creative Writing | Poetry


I found these words on a flyer for a tour guide in Dingle. He made his living showing tourists the flora of the area. The flyer had been left out in the rain, but was still legible.

A WEED is a plant in the wrong place.
It is also an attitude of mind.
Every garden plant has its origins in the wild,
when plants were properly respected for their powers.
Dock and bramble, nettle and plantain were always part of the garden.
Cocksfoot is the stateliest of grasses in flower,
its spiky panicle smothered in anthers of pale purple.
It is also the right weed to chew, for the sugar stored
deep at the base of the stem.
Other weeds are for touching: soft cats’ tails of timothy,
the pink and feathery plumes of Yorkshire fog.
Dandelion, too: its French name, pissenlit,
a tribute to the plant’s powers
as a diuretic, is straightforwardly echoed
in the English vernacular — “pissy-bed.”
Dandelions grow in a hedge bank community
along with primroses, violets, and celandines.
Above them, common vetch twines in summer cries
of amethyst and bright blue.
And if the downy cranesbill should edge its pink stars
into the sea kale,
won’t they be most welcome there?
Is it any less beautiful scrambling among the peas?

Photograph by Becca Kueny