by Barbara Crooker

There is rue on my hands—
they are stained with that green smell.
Oh, it’s a take-over plant,
insinuating its leafy excesses everywhere.
Today I pulled it out by the roots;
it was threatening the roses.
My husband’s been promoted;
we are getting transplanted.
Today, a for-sale sign
has mushroomed on my lawn.

There is rue on my hands—
here, looking at houses
a hundred miles away,
I smell its sharp sting.
It must be rue that waters my eyes.

My hands are full of rue;
I cannot be pulled out so easily.
This clean May light,
so dappling you could drink it,
quenching as celery,
is a tonic that binds.
These Darwin tulips
in impossible colors
of wine, fuchsia, and claret
seduce the new buyers
up my walk.

My hands are full of rue and
although my time is spent
in other people’s yards,
I’ll drag that bitter scent with me
to whatever patch of turf or sod
I get to call my own.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This photo, which is recent (2014) was taken at Castelnaud, France. Our last move was not physical; my husband’s company was taken over by a French company, which resulted in our getting to take a number of trips to la belle France. . . .

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem appears in my chapbook, Moving Poems (The Camel Press, 2014). We moved many times early in our marriage, and each time, it was a wrench, an uprooting.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Barbara Crooker is the author of six books of poetry, including Small Rain (Purple Flag Press, 2014) and Barbara Crooker: Selected Poems (FutureCycle Press, 2015). Her work has appeared in The Bedford Introduction to Literature, Ted Kooser’s “American Life in Poetry,” and on The Writer’s Almanac. Visit her at