Not where this language grew, but where each bed
is full of flowers notable for scent:
Heliotrope, fringed iris, hyacinth,
but not the rose whose fangs would be a threat
to those unwarned by sight. Touch is allowed;
winged twigs of burning bush, furred leaves of lamb’s
ears and the peonies’ silk petals crowd
forward like cats starved for attention.
Each plant is labeled with a metal plate.
Because a few whole leaves are snipped, the black
words rough as bark must urge the blind to Taste
the lemon balm and mint. I’d like to ask
What is this bush, this vine with scarlet blooms?
My blind hands stumble on their coded names.
Mary Makofske’s manuscript, Traction, recently won the Richard Snyder Prize and will be published by Ashland Poetry Press in 2011. Her previous books are The Disappearance of Gargoyles (Thorntree Press) and Eating Nasturtiums (Flume). Her poems have appeared in Poetry, Natural Bridge, Zone 3, Calyx, and other journals.