Thistledom: Poetry by Joyce Anderson

Summer,  time again to do battle with
those quilled-head punk-style kings
who march defiantly between wild oat grasses
and tall fescue stems.
The nectar-laden crowns of sun-ray yellow
disguise a more malevolent nature
of these warrior chiefs,
protected by sharp-toothed lances.

I pick and gather the star thistle
to stop the invasion
to prevent the reseeding and the starting anew.
I bend down, clutch the stem 
near to the ground with gloved, shielded fingers,
and pull the brown root; short, dry hairs all
up and out, making sure it will not grow again . . . 
will not claim dominion over native vegetation.

I feel good ridding the land of this arrogant weed
attacking the legs of farmers and hikers, infesting 
the native grasslands, meadows and gardens 
of a more approachable world.

Now and then, using gloveless more nimble fingers 
I pull and tug each one up by its roots, 
and in this hand-to-thistle combat 
the dry coarse-ribbed stems occasionally 
cut through my vulnerable skin.
The smear of blood across 
my farmer’s palm gives me evidence 
of their imperial maleficence 
and the royal command "Fight On!"
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