Serendipity and poetry go hand in hand so it’s no surprise that my recent post on Mary Ruefle’s mention of agave in one of her poems means that another, much more botanically correct, poem devoted to agave has come to my attention. Like most things in the mezcalverse it just dropped out of the sky while researching some other agaves in the header of a paper devoted to Arizona’s populations of ancient agave cultivars. I reached out to the paper’s author, Karen R. Adams, and she has given us permission to reprint the poem, Ode to an Odd Agave in full. Thanks Karen!
Ode to an Odd AgaveKaren R. Adams from her paper “How Does Our Agave Grow? Reproductive Biology of a Suspected Ancient Arizona Cultivar, Agave murpheyi Gibson” Co-authored with Rex K. Adams and originally published in 1998 in Desert Plants, Vol. 14 (2), University of Arizona.
An Agave weighing less than a pound
And measuring very few inches around,
Grew up fast, and then,
Before it turned ten,
Sent a stalk soaring way above ground.
This Agave then flowered, and said,
“Why waste time making seeds for a bed?
It seems faster to me,
(As I’m sure you’ll agree),
I’ll make little Agaves instead!”
So “pups” were formed high in the air,
Attached firmly to branches up there.
Then an inca dove family,
Set up housekeeping, grandly,
And raised two young doves oh so fair.
At 20 months after the start,
A storm split the stalk from the heart.
Those pups, it was deemed,
Were past time to be weaned,
So we broke each one carefully apart.
The pups, totaling 359,
Were quite varied, after all of this time.
If this pattern keeps up,
We’ll be drowning in pups,
A fate both bizarre and divine!