This poem was a finalist for Plough’s 2023 Rhina Espaillat Poetry Award.

A pumpkin vine is far from where its roots
first sprang into the earth. It seeks the sun,
proceeding south as fast as it can run.
With luck, it adventitiously re-roots
itself when it can find the ground, re-routes
itself in random zigzags to outrun
the pestilence, the drooping of the sun,
that stanch the flow from soon-abandoned roots.
It seems as though it never has to die
as long as it continues on its way
away from rots that chase it from its roots,
adventuring beneath renewing skies,
discarding golden blossoms day by day—
until it finds that it’s arrived, and fruits.

Louis Comfort Tiffany, Pumpkin and Beets window, stained glass, 1900. Photograph by xennex.