Tumble Weed (Salsola tragus)
by Ann E. Michael

I return from desert only to learn
that tumbleweeds are not American,
their origin the Russian plains.
A type of thistle, dry stems brittle
at summer’s end, they break
into thorny basket-whorls, wind-
driven, seed-spewing, dust-loving.
They sprout at the least hint
of moisture and prevail: spring up,
root down, bloom, seed, die, break,
spin in desert wind. Their beige
skeletal masses pile against
coyote fence and highway shoulder,
littering offspring as they go
yet they are alien to Crow, Sioux,
Apache. Tumbled here from Elsewhere
like the grain farmer and the
oil prospector, strange, dangerous,
invasive, taking over all the Earth.


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