Armoracia Rusticana

Wild and free it grew like an oasis in the field fronting the white square farmhouse,
black shutters of narrow expectations screwed on tight.

Sitting high on his red tractor, Daddy spun the steering wheel to till around it,
          gave it space to grow.
In spring white flowers burst forth like poems,
in fall, leaves long, lush, and emerald green, braved harsh weather,
          impervious to seasons and other restrictions.

This stubborn wild horseradish patch took root in one of many square forty-acre fields
          fenced against deviations—
Iowa’s fecund soil birthing corn, hay, oats and money.

It shocked the tongue with its sharp bite,
became appreciated with liverwurst on rye for Sunday lunch after church which found Daddy
bending his long bony frame to fit a pew
and a young poet in the balcony silently arguing with every decree.

Along about November when Daddy raced to get corn into the bin before snow filled the fields,
he tossed his spade into a wagon and drove out to dig horseradish.

The earth-tanned roots, half the length of his spade, as thick as his sinewed arms,
he tied with twine, tossed them into the wagon, brought them home.

He left some free to be.

Every spring, under the watchful eye of the white square farmhouse,
black shutters of narrow expectations screwed on tight,
wild horseradish bloomed poems out there in the field.

Nan Lundeen’s poetry has appeared in Atlanta Review, Connecticut River Review, Steam Ticket, Illuminations, Yemassee, The Petigru Review,, and others. Find her books of poetry and writing handbook at The retired award-winning journalist lives in southwestern Michigan and holds an M.A. from Western Michigan University.