by Ruth Moon Kempher

My Gramma knew the names of all the field
flowers, but I didn’t always listen.  The lavender
lilac was French, she said, which I knew was far off
where there was war, which wasn’t fitting.  Peace—
there were Peace roses in her garden, and Ramblers—
that made sense somehow, since everybody went out
somewhere, but could come home.  Three-Star flag
in her window for three boys, one was for my Dad—
Lily-of-the-Valley and Mock Orange by the porch.
Too long in the south now, where it hardly
grows anything without stickers or violent smell
my favorites were Queen Anne’s Lace and
Dutchman’s Breeches, sometimes called, if I
remember rightly, Butter and Eggs, in lots miscalled
“vacant,” where grasses congregate—bugs
and milkweed pods, oozing moths and butterflies—
the moths that drift, white over dry rows of pea vines
like early snow.  Summer was the best time, then.
Carrot smell, vague, of Queen Anne’s lace
embroidered my days, easy.  Looking up under
its umbrella, kaleidoscope curds, white knurls
on green spokes, turned slowly—Summer
was for hiding then, mostly, looking up.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ruth Moon Kempher, an ex-navy brat who was born in Red Bank, New Jersey, has had her poetry and short prose appear in journals and other periodical publications since 1958, and has published many other people’s work since 1994 through her Kings Estate Press in St. Augustine, Florida. She is retired from owning a tavern and from teaching—first for Flagler College while attaining her BA and graduating with the college’s first class; and later, after achieving her MA at Emory University in Atlanta, in the English Department of St. Johns River Community College. The latest of her thirty-three (mostly small) collections is Key West Papers (Casa de Cinco Hermanos Press, Pueblo, Colorado). Her poetry, including “Queen Anne’s Lace,” will appear in the Silver Birch Press SUMMER ANTHOLOGY (June 21, 2013), a collection of poetry and prose written by over 70 authors from the U.S., Canada, U.K., Europe, and Africa.

PHOTO: “Queen Anne’s Lace” by LupenGrainne — prints are available at