Foraging for Poetry

My wicker basket swells.
I forage for our supper
but poems cling like lace on lichened branches
stanzas tumble from the boughs
as copper petals catch the breeze.

~ Jo Parfitt, “Foraging for Poems,” 2017

Fall in Southern Oregon is a great time to forage in our gardens and neighborhoods for home décor because there’s such a plethora of flora

A basket of my foraged flora

available – fall blooming flowers, fruit hanging on tree branches, leaves turning fall colors, grasses with feathery plumes, perennials with interesting seedpods, tree limbs with attractive bark, and shrubs bearing vibrant berries.

So this fall, I decided to forego dragging out the storage container labeled “Fall” and forage for home décor, instead.

I thought my foraging for flora escapade was pretty successful until I read author and writing mentor, Jo Parfitt, describe how foraging for chanterelle mushrooms in the Norwegian woodlands helped her find her poet’s soul. According to Jo, “It was not many minutes into the excursion that words began to pop into my mind. Poems began to form and inspiration bubbled.”

Wow! I guess I was too focused on how I was going to use my foraged flora to create fall arrangements, and I missed all of the poetic possibilities! In “Foraging for Poems,” however, Parfitt writes:

Words, like mushrooms,
emerge from nowhere,
they muscle in and shriek, “Me! Me!”
But beauty is a siren’s song.
I’m told to leave them be.

So, I used the free verse style of Parfitt’s poem to describe my own foraging experience:

The Foraging Basket

Foregoing the container marked “Fall Décor,”
I found an old wicker basket at a thrift store – her 
Pinecones came free.
The basket and I forged a companionship as
Foragers of flora in
My gardens at home and the
Ripened fields and orchards at
Historic Hanley Farm.

I hunted for
Flowers, fruits and berries;
The basket collected all of the
Bounty.
Together,
We carried
Our flora
Home.

Now, I think the basket
Let go of
Our gatherings  
Reluctantly;
After all, what is the
Meaning of a
Basket except for
What she holds?

But, I, compelled to
Sort and arrange,
Didn’t notice as I spilled from
The basket what we had gathered and
Reshaped her jumble into “Art”-
More orderly, but less honest
Than the Pinecones
She held before.

 

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  • About the Author

    Rhonda Nowak

    Rhonda Nowak is a Rogue Valley gardener, writer and teacher. With more than 25 years of gardening experience and a Ph.D. in literature and language arts education, she combines a love for plants, poetry, and prose in her Literary Gardener blog. ... Full Profile
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