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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, January 27, 2016
About this Poem 

“Some plants spread their seeds by attaching to passersby. For the tumbleweed, the passerby is the wind, and rather than sending seeds, the whole plant hitches a ride—and in order to do so, must die. This philosophically-rich situation was the entry point for this poem.”
—Iris Cushing

Hill Behind Finn’s House, Val Verde, January

How to get around it isn’t clear.
A thicket hedged across the road,

a high curve mass
of tumbleweeds.

Wind draws their tendrils tight.
How to get around them.

To the left, uphill,
to the right, the place

we used to be, where
tumbleweeds won’t tumble.

Earth and sky and thorny combs
that card them to each other.

You’re loose from your root,
hair caught in a knot at your nape.

Touch a tumbleweed, it springs back.
Tossed upon its thickest wisp,

a length of sisal twine
worked stiff,

a fishnet glove
the air can wear.

How it blows
between you.

The wind that names
the tumbleweed, names its purpose,

calls it by the way it moves.
I didn’t know you had a cactus

now tattooed across your back.
I haven’t seen you naked in so long.

Copyright © 2016 Iris Cushing. Used with permission of the author. 

Copyright © 2016 Iris Cushing. Used with permission of the author. 

Iris Cushing

Iris Cushing

Iris Cushing is the author of Wyoming (Furniture Press Books, 2014).