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California Wood Fern

Dryopteris arguta


Photo Credit: Amanda Sparkman

Paul Willis

California Wood Fern

(Dryopteris arguta)                                                              

They think I’m friendly,

the way I wave at everyone.


But it’s just a matter of loose

fronds, a feeling of being


unhinged, a constant fiddling

with the rachis of my neck.


A little substance would be nice—

some backbone, some wooden fiber.


Then I would say Howd’y’do

as many times as you please—


not with these flimsy, flailing arms,

but with a slight nod of the head,


a dip of the crown, lichen

swaying from my beard.

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