Poetry Friday: My Chlorophyll Heart

My Chlorophyll Heart

I’m for photosynthetic optimism –
the bulbous kind you plant in the fall
in spite of squirrels who dig ruthlessly
and urban deer who nibble indiscriminately,
the kind that seed packets hold through the winter
believing in butterflies and hummingbirds
before they’ve ever known sun and rain.

Here’s to the blazing green energy of plants–
from the toughest blade of crabgrass
to the most tender spring ephemeral,
from the massive trunks of riverbed sycamores
to the tiniest pond-floating duckweeds.

I’m for the plants –
for the roots who go about their work
silently, mysteriously,
collaborating with mycorrhizal fungi.

And I’m for the leaves of trees –
especially sweet gum’s stars
and ginkgo’s fans.

I’m for the way we share the air with plants –
us breathing out, plants breathing in.
I’m for the generous chemistry of leaves,
combining carbon dioxide with water and sun,
creating carbon building blocks for itself, then
sharing the extras back into the soil for the microbes.

What moves me?
What plays me like a needle in a groove?

© Mary Lee Hahn, 2022

The Poetry Sisters’ challenge for this month was to write in the style of Taylor Mali. The poem I used as my mentor text is Silver-Lined Heart. Next month we are writing poems around the words string, thread, rope, or chain.

Here’s what the rest of the Poetry Sisters came up with:
Tricia @ The Miss Rumphius Effect
Tanita @ {fiction, instead of lies}
Sara @ Read Write Believe
Laura @ Laura Purdie Salas
Liz @ Liz Garton Scanlon
Kelly @ Kelly Ramsdell
Andi @ A Wrung Sponge

Happy Last Friday of National Poetry Month 2022! All of my NPM poems are archived here. Jone has this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup at Jone Rush MacCulloch. Like last weekend, I will be away from my computer this weekend and will look forward to catching up on your posts next week!

20 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: My Chlorophyll Heart”

  1. Oh, Mary Lee! There’s so much I love about this poem. That first stanza is especially fabulous. I started to share other favorite parts and then realized I was going to essentially recopy the entire poem. Love this! (Now I’m off to check off the mentor poem.)


  2. Hoo boy! (which doesn’t translate very well into “hoo woman” but I get why that might be preferable.) Bulbous optimism, the whole second stanza, generous chemistry, your chlorophyll heart–you nailed it!


  3. What a wonderful celebration of green! I especially love “And I’m for the leaves of trees –
    especially sweet gum’s stars and ginkgo’s fans.” It made me think of the gingko I often visit at Longwood Gardens.


  4. This morning I’m watching my lilac leaves grow outside my window. I love these lines:
    I’m for the plants –
    for the roots who go about their work
    silently, mysteriously,


  5. I agree with every last word of this poem! Thank you for cheering for plants and making me remember how happy and wonderful they are. I am still working on my poem and will post later.


  6. I love every word of it! If only my garden plans could feel your love. I planted pea seeds early, and barely any of them are rising to the occasion! And my tomato plant, which I just bought yesterday, drooped today!!! But, I think I have it in hand, and I think perhaps the peas will come up once this cold windy weather subsides. So… hooray for plants! Let the blooming and growing begin! Thanks for a fabulous poem.


  7. Me, too! Love every bit, but especially those sweetgum leaves! There aren’t many to spy here in Denver but I love them when I do. Maybe spring will charm more people to fall in love with the green?


  8. The “generous chemistry of leaves” is gorgeous, but I love this best:
    “believing in butterflies and hummingbirds/before they’ve ever known sun and rain”

    I love what you’ve done this month and the fact that you’ve done this Mali-style is amazing.


  9. Oh, another ginko leaf fan waving wildly over here. WELL DONE, YOU! What a brilliant way to take firm hold of a bit of air and light in this sometimes heavy and grim topic and give it a very Mary Lee spin. Bulbous optimism!! Here’s to the silence and the mystery and the believing in the not-yet-seen…

    I agree with Patricia. This is like a Billy Collins level of “Yeah, that’s a poem I like,” to be shared widely with people who don’t think they do.


  10. You beautiful cheerleader, you! What a great way to end this month. I can just see you jumping and cheering at each new bud or shoot or bit of green. But of course my favorite lines are: ‘And I’m for the leaves of trees –
    especially sweet gum’s stars
    and ginkgo’s fans.”
    Plant stars….hmmmm. I need to go walking. Thanks!


  11. Fabulous. I love how instead of a jumble of a list…loving this and that…you’ve dived deeply into the how and why of your adoration of plants, and this poem blooms because of that. Just gorgeous.


  12. Love how this starts off, Mary Lee. “I’m for photosynthetic optimism.” I did read this over the weekend but who knows why I did not comment then. I might have fallen asleep with the computer in my hand.


  13. This poem actually-really-truly-indeed made me feel optimistic. Thank you, Mary Lee, I love every little green bit of it.


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