Monday, September 23, 2013


seeds; for the alphabestiary, in response to this poem by Ariel Gordon ...

Klaudia the Common Burdock

Most people think she is a homeless person with élan, a tall woman who mutters and stumps up and down the street in bright clothes.

Her couture is getting ragged, her near neighbours notice. Burrs at her ankles like she’s been tramping around on the riverbank.

(Burrs at her wrists. Burrs in her red red hair.)

But she’s a seed-bomb, thrown into the human population by a middle-aged colony of Common Burdock.

Who diverted its energy from seed-production – thousands upon thousands of hooked seeds – for a single summer.

Who had more than enough discarded condoms and wads of gum, there by the side of the path, to grow a girl.

* * *

A teenager with a small mustache – who liked to bike really really fast and really really far in the blue half-light, his parents fighting every every night – found her.

He was so dreadfully glad to find something/anything he could save.

She was purple and angry, her having been just born, but when bent down to fish her from the weeds at Omand’s Creek Park, she stared up at him like he was the only only thing.

He abandoned his bike and walked carefully up the hill to the stand of houses, clasping the baby.

At the third house, his knuckles already sore from knocking: I found a baby. In the park.

* * *

She moved from foster home to foster home. Indifferent to each new set of parents. Indifferent to her foster siblings. Indifferent to the other loners at school and, also, indifferent to the popular kids.

Beauty is expected to be difficult-to-please, but she was stout. Surly, prone to narrowed eyes and curled lips.

Leaf me alone, she’d insist. If she spoke at all.

And her hair was a strange red. Like rust. Like your tongue after you’ve shotgunned a can of orange soda.

* * *

When she was a teenager and her skin boiled, she hung out on the riverbank with the grizzled men who fished the silty water and drank.

When one of them – his brassy permed hair catching flickers from their driftwood fire – offered her slugs of vodka, she accepted. She even let him lead her into the bushes, where he unbuckled his pants and reached for her.

She punched him.

She punched him so hard and left him on the ground, pants tangled around his ankles.

She pushed her way through the clump of weeds at the far edge of the park. And stopped dead, suddenly and irrevocably at home.

* * *

Just by existing, she is a sticking-point, a problem. None of the socio-medico groups know quite how to deal with her. No addictions, no mental disorders. She just likes to live rough.

She likes waste places, open or disturbed woods, roadsides, fence rows, barnyards, abandoned fields and stream banks.

Because seeds line her mouth, silver her tongue. Seeds ripen under her armpit. Seeds teem in the damp space between the fall of her hair and her neck.

Other people attract ticks and mosquitos; their children’s scalps teeming with lice. She spits and shits seeds.

* * *

One spring day, she came upon a cityworker with a pair of shears, snipping the colony’s coarse red stems.

She couldn’t help herself: she gave him a great shove, knocking him into the cluster of plants, and ran towards Portage Avenue, tears streaming down her cheeks.

But she knows better now: there is always more seed, always more rosettes and purple-flowered plants, towering over the people who walk by.

Her one and only job is to take Common Burdock to places it hasn’t been before.

She stalks well.

... which was, in turn, in response to this drawing. And so it goes.