Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Kari Gunter Seymour: Planting By the Signs

I communed with woodcock

and pine warblers today,

under a cornflower sky,

all the muted shades of early spring

striping the fields.

I can hear my grandmother’s voice,

You need to put your taters in the ground

’cause the signs is right.

Though I always took her at her word,

I never truly understood her science

until long after she was gone, but lately

I have come to respect her study of the stars,

the astrological systems she relied upon.

Plow the soil under barren signs,

Aquarius, Gemini, Leo,

sow during the fertile,

Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces.

Plant crops that produce their fruits

above the ground at the moon’s waxing,

root crops during its wane.

She not only planted and harvested

by the signs, but weaned her babies,

trimmed her hair, baked cakes and coaxed

many a child away from the edge of fever

when the signs were highest.

While campaigning for president,

Michael Bloomberg said:

“I could teach anybody to be a farmer.

You dig a hole, put a seed in,

put dirt on top, add water.”

Along America’s roadways, stunted corn stalks

tip their tasseled heads, exhausted,

saturated in GMO’s and fusty air.

Who knew the humiliation they would suffer?

I hear my grandmother’s voice, a divination,

Thick rolls the mist, that smokes and falls in dew.


From A Place So Deep Inside America It Can’t Be Seen by Kari Gunter-Seymour (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions 2020).

Kari Gunter-Seymour is the Poet Laureate of Ohio.

5 comments on “Kari Gunter Seymour: Planting By the Signs

  1. Mary McCarthy
    July 11, 2021

    Beautiful and true. You have to be close to the earth, familiar with it as with your own skin, before you can know how to work it, to plant and harvest. Can’t do that from behind a desk, in a suit and tie. Women live close to the blood and bone, the meat and grit. They know about seeds and what they need to grow.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Barbara Huntington
    July 5, 2021

    Will keep to help me remember when to plant, but the music and cornflower sky will keep me reading it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Rose Mary Boehm
    July 5, 2021

    So true, Kari. The old women knew. I grew up in the country and ‘my’ old women knew. And they knew what to think of the likes of Bloomberg. In my country those old women told those men the truth too, endangering their own lives. But they wouldn’t ber silenced. Yes, the moon and the stars and the natural order of things. Women.

    Liked by 1 person

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