Milkweed Pod by Lara Payne

Milkweed Pod

Sharp billed husk, unopened. Winter cracked,
wind wheeled. Such possibility, waiting. Carried miles
or stuffed into the lifejackets of soldiers. Perhaps

even worn by my grandfather, fighting in the Pacific.
Milkweed pods open to a silky fluff. Twenty pounds of floss
to float one man. Insulation. Insect born.

Such weightlessness may have saved him, once, on the way
from ship to shore. He did not breathe a word. Silent return. If
every letter he wrote to my grandmother held two truths

and a lie, to calm and distract the military censors, how
will we find the truth? Husked, sharp billed
nestled gently in the palm, a shape he didn’t yet know

to desire: that split. All of his possible progeny.
He carried parachute silk home for her, to sew
into her wedding gown. Such economy, such abundance

coming from his duffle bag. Unending as a magic trick
yards spilling silk into her hands, both of them laughing.
Unrationed laughter, an almost mania of relief.

Radiation from that shore in Japan, a pinprick
in his brain. Waiting.


Lara Payne lives in Maryland. Once an archeologist, she now teaches writing at the college level, to veterans, and to small children. Her poem “Corn Stand, 10 ears for two dollars” was a winner in the Moving Words Competition. and was placed on buses in Arlington, VA. Recent poems have appeared in the Beltway Poetry Quarterly and on SWWIM Daily.

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