Poetry Friday: Seeking Light

As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence
is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.
~ Carl Jung ~

The world is a scary place these days. Sometimes it’s hard to see how we will find solutions to the myriad crises the we face. But then wise people like Robin Wall Kimmerer, a brilliant “plant ecologist, educator, and writer articulating a vision of environmental stewardship grounded in scientific and Indigenous knowledge,” wins a MacArthur award. Kimmerer’s writing always gives me hope and inspires me to just be and do better as I move through the world. One lesson I took away from her book Braiding Sweetgrass is the importance of knowing the names of the plants and animals who share this earth with us. Because I have no one left to teach me, I rely on technology to learn the names of plants and flowers that have surrounded me since childhood. Now I have iNaturalist on my phone, so while I’m out walking or working in my yard, I can take a photo of whatever plant or animal I come across, and iNaturalist will do its best to tell me the name of my nonhuman neighbor.

Last weekend, I found this glorious little berry behind my house:

I had never seen such a plant! My first thought was that it was a wild strawberry, but it’s October and strawberry season is long past. After a quick search through its database, iNaturalist informed me that this is a mock strawberry, a species native to eastern and southern Asia. I know I should have left it for the squirrels and chipmunks who have been busy devouring the feast to be found outside my backdoor, I couldn’t resist setting a woodland table:

Of course all this creative play inspired a poem!

October Surprise

Bright red and glistening 
with morning dew,
a plump mock strawberry
is a beacon 
to a chipmunk
foraging for breakfast.




Draft © Catherine Flynn, 2022

If you haven’t read Braiding Sweetgrass, find a copy today. Or listen to the author herself reading it in her soothing, patient voice. Your world will be made brighter! Also be sure to visit Matt Forrest Esenwine at Radio, Rhythm, and Rhyme for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

12 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Seeking Light

  1. Catherine– that’s such a delightful poem! I’ve never seen a mock strawberry before– the little knobs are so interesting. Happy Poetry Friday!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That is one crazy looking strawberry! I love that it inspired your poem and that wonderful ending, “Gobble, Gulp, Gone” I have been meaning to read “Braiding Sweetgrass” for the longest time. I bought a copy so long ago and just haven’t managed to dive in. Thanks for the nudge in that direction.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It is a new plant to me, too, Catherine, wondering if it’s traveled to Colorado? I didn’t know of INaturalist, will find it & I’ve read Braiding Sweetgrass, have it on my kindle & the hardback first, but read little bits again & again. “A beacon for a chipmunk”, of course! Happy weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. How about that?! I have mock strawberries too–I thought they were wild strawberries. Your naturalist app just helped me out. I love the table you set in your poem. It illustrates your photo perfectly.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. These mock strawberry plants vine and twine and creep and invade every part of my yard and garden beds. I am NOT a fan. (But I do love your poem 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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