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Until I heard the names in my own voice I never saw them whole: chickweed, toothwort, May apple, Dutchman's breeches, Indian pipe A list was my father's way of witnessing; it made a flower real. And this afternoon in the weedy meadow by the towpath, I'm jotting odd names on a scrap of paper for no one in particular, myself maybe or my father. Back then I let him teach me to look down at the ground for stars, bells, shades of blue. He was never happier than when we looked up accuracy's myriad names and he wrote them out in slanted letters. Now, over and over, like a child, I say gill-over-the-ground, gill-over-the-ground, gill-over-the-ground, and in the saying see it blossom again inside its spilled blue name.

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Author:Colburn, Don
Publication:The Nation
Date:May 3, 1993
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