Jatropha cardiophylla


Rebecca Seiferle



I must have passed by a hundred times and not noticed

these spindly twigs, drought and cold deciduous,

among the desert's scraggle… so what

if I know baskets were made by the Seri people

the splints sewn into a star

the blood color of these branches

or that Jatropha cardiophylla lives in colonies

spread by underground runners and that its sap

stains the fingers red or that it bears a single female flower,

a three seeded fruit? Knowledge

is not the encounter with the thing itself,

so at the margins of the monsoon season,

caught in a basket of words,

I am stuck on the limberbush, searching

for its white to pale yellow blooms, to see

knowingly this one small life,

like all the nondescript small creatures,

including human beings

that the eyes have to open to find, so

I can bow to it and acknowledge

its small loves opening the shining

heart-shaped leaves with their crenellated margins

and red petioles . . .how radiant

is the ordinary, overlooked, the never-seen

when branches that seem dead or stricken

leaf and flower in the rain.




Rebecca Seiferle’s most recent poetry collection, Wild Tongue (Copper Canyon 2007), won the 2008 Grub Street National Poetry Prize. She was awarded a Lannan Foundation Poetry Fellowship in 2004. She lives in Tucson with her family.