The Lobelias of Fear

there are maple trees, one, two, three
but wait there’s 5 more, 2 behind the bungalow
and lots in the poetry state forest
I hear target practice from far away, it’s
probably for shooting deer, bears and dinosaurs
but how will we, still alive, socialize
in the winter? wrapped in bear skins
we’ll sit around pot-bellied stoves eating
the lobelias of fear leftover from desperation
last summer’s woodland sunflowers and bee balm
remind us of black cherry eaten in a hurry
while the yard grows in the moonlight
shrinking like a salary or a damaged item
when we return in the morning for a breakfast
of harvest petunias sprinkled with wild marsh mallow


Copyright © 2021 by Bernadette Mayer. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 21, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

Eating ‘The Lobelias of Fear’ is an image of the desperation that people feel or felt about Covid. There’s so much beauty in the names of growing things, like lobelias, like marsh mallow; and that’s what we do—we try to eat them, or ingest them.”
Bernadette Mayer