My Pen Pal’s Spring and Mine


Oxalis acetosella, Otto Wilhelm Thome, from Flora von Deutschland Osterreich und der Schweiz (1885), via Wikimedia Commons


My Pen Pal’s Spring and Mine

She’s way away, far tucked in a woods I do not know.
Her spring bursts with rue anemone, toothwort, and pennywort –
names I Google, not mouth easily like candied ginger.

My leaf meal shifts for false solomon’s seal, oxalis,
wood violets, foamflower, wintergreen, and coast strawberries.
Honeybees find wild huckleberry blooms.

Two mallards check out our creek,
two sapsuckers lurk in the rotten alder tops.
Indian plum new growth arches over the creek.

Monkeyflowers, our fragrant western azalea.
Maybe these are like the plants she tenders?
They are gathering up for next month.

I tipped my compost bin today. Found last summer’s corn
on the cob, red wigglers hiding in almost-rotted crevices.
Saw a label on a withered avocado skin that told

where the fruit came from. The rest was the smell
of loam plus an eggshell or two. Pushed
the wheelbarrow up the  hill to raised beds

with starts of snap peas, arugula and chard.
And finally the long-awaited beets.
A garden weight I lift today. Skipped

lunch to yank up hairy bittercress. Half-mooned
my fingernails full with dirt, eclipsing
the staid woman I pretend to be.

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Oxalis oregana, or wood sorrel. Photo by Tricia Knoll.


Tricia Knoll is a Portland, Oregon poet who has maintained gardens all her life, sowing the seeds of sanity. She grew up admiring her mother’s roses and vegetable garden. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and volunteers at Portland’s Washington Park Rose Test Garden. Her chapbook Urban Wild is available from Amazon and focuses on interactions between humans and wildlife in urban habitat.

Her lyric and eco-poetry of  Ocean’s Laughter (Aldrich Press) focuses on a small town on the Oregon coast, Manzanita. Website:
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