Beach Pea

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Beach Pea

Beach Pea

Dave Lucas's poem works with another favorite poetic tradition, the ode.

"Beach Pea" by Dave Lucas

Leave beauty to the rose
and its lexicon of crimsons.
O ruby petal and holy thorn  —
poets, you can have it.

You, beach pea, rooted
in sand when all this land
was lake, when this lake
was Atlantic coast,

stranded when the glaciers
calved and receded —
leaving you and sea rocket,
purple sand-grass and spurge.

What genuine science,
what skill in your flowering:
you conjure nitrogen
from thin air and hold it,

hard as November wind,
in your roots. Deep
in the sterile load, they spread
and keep what water they can.

Hardscrabble, this scratch
of beach offers nothing
but swells of dry surf,
break and wash of waves

like the back and forth
of xylem and phloem
in your thin frame’s
tiny musculature.

Pastel and crepe petal,
flower of work and mettle,
spread out, spread deep.
Bow to no one, to no rose.

“Beach Pea” by Dave Lucas from Weather. University of Georgia Press 2011. Used with permission of the author.

Dave Lucas is the author of Weather, which received the 2012 Ohioana Book Award for Poetry. Recently, Rita Dove selected him to be featured on as a “young poet to watch.” A PhD candidate in English at the University of Michigan, he lives in Cleveland, where he was born and raised.