Monthly Archives: February 2014

The Dream of Perennial Corn

Resource-hog sign of high summer,
high-fructose commodity seed,
short-term forest I missed sorely
in years Gran’daddy grew soybeans—

oh, corn.

Holding tight to cob-stabber handles,
letting butter invade where it will,
I demolish, row by row, kernel troops.
They leave behind mines in my teeth.

Fine people are already working
on sorghum and wheat
that don’t have to be plowed under,
replanted, cut down, plowed under,
and fertilized, fertilized, fertilized.

Much less practical is longing for perennial corn
but I do. I’m hot for it. Like August.
Imagine deep roots find Ogallala.
Acres jump up every year like bamboo.

We could wander and pluck at ripe goodness,
modern-day Eve, Adam, Abel, Cain.
There’s plenty enough for everyone.
More than enough for raccoons.

We probably won’t but we might
do the right thing, the right things
enough times in a row, enough rows
in a row, to harvest just once

without biting the hands that feed us,
without breaking our favorite jelly jar,
without zeroing out.

We might hold out our cup almost shyly
and blink, super-slow, as it fills up,
with sunshine, with sweetness, with juicy,

with corn.


You should check out The Land Institute if you don’t already know all about them. My husband and I have supported them for years, and in fact, my parents do, too.

(Apparently there are other people working on perennial crops, including corn, but it isn’t pretty yet. And I’m not familiar with this particular fellow.)

The Land Institute’s main site is here, and here’s an article from the Wall Street Journal which ends with a lovely little paragraph:

“‘We’ll get there,’ Mr. Jackson says, with the patient drawl of a plant breeder from Kansas. ‘But it is no instant gratification. We’re making considerable progress, but this is not for the conventional mind.'”

As always, I’m pleased not to have a conventional mind.