The Seed Collector’s Daughter by Persis Karim
The Seed Collector’s Daughter
by Persis Karim
She didn’t seem to notice how the squash
seeds on the counter took over—invading.
First grape, tomato, eggplant seeds, then fava
beans found their way onto the large cutting board.
When we tried to move or discard
them, she balked. Told us she would move them.
Small jars and glasses began to appear everywhere:
sprigs of thyme, red begonias, spearmint, spider
plants. She guarded them like small
children. Under the light of the Madrone
she transplanted as a sapling, she built
a nursery. In the filtered shade,
she cultivated seedlings of every sort:
annuals, perennials, cuttings of pomegranate,
fig, lemon. She had no desire to buy plants—
they spoke to her, greeted her as if she was a fairy
sent to rescue and cajole them into future seasons.
She was making a home — giving us
and them roots. This was her habit—
propagating while she inhabited the world.
At times, we shrank when we passed a neighbor’s
house where she took cuttings or crossed
their property to pick seeds or pods—Lilac, Salvia,
Ceanothus, Oak. It didn’t matter if they were trees
or shrubs, native or exotic. All of them belonged
in her garden. Now, I find myself with pockets full
of seeds. Last week, Red Clover, this week Rattlesnake
Grass. And after the Yellow Lupine pods dry and harden,
I’ll gather those too. I remember her holding acorns
in her right hand, my palm in her left. Like a bird,
she moved life across time and space,
making things come alive.
I know this need.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Persis Karim is a poet, editor, and professor. She teeters on the edge of multiple cultures; her mother was French, her father was Iranian, and she is a melange of those two cultures and her California roots. Her poetry has been published in a variety of publications including Caesura, HeartLodge, The New York Times, The Raven’s Perch, Callaloo, and others. In addition to being a writer, she considers herself a maker, a photographer, and a lover of pomegranates. She is also the director of the Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies at San Francisco State University where she also teaches in the Department of Comparative and World Literature. For more info: persiskarim.com.
PHOTO and FEATURED IMAGE by THE AUTHOR